S is for…
I have a confession…I love learning.
It’s good to get that out; I think it’s an addiction. I know that there are others of you out there.
I went to a Grammar School and I’m not convinced that it was there that inspired me. In fact when I was applying to university one course told me to take a year out and I decided not to because I didn’t think I’d be able to get back into learning if I’d had time out (ha, little did I know). It obviously helps when you are learning things that interest you and I still have examples of school projects where clearly I had been engrossed in the subject. I really enjoyed Sociology at A-Level and won a school prize for it. I studied English and did consider dropping it because I felt we were told to concentrate purely on the words of a text without always considering context.
I do, however, have a tendency to be a little flighty and get more excited about my next course or the next topic to learn. I was initially going to complete my dissertation at uni on autism but then on my mental health placement came across a young man who had drug induced psychosis (caused by cannabis consumption) so I applied to change my topic.
In 2004 I decided that I wanted to go back to study and enrolled on a few Open University courses, An Introduction to the Humanities and Start Writing Fiction and Start Writing Poetry. I was hooked. I then completed: Approaching Literature, Start Writing Plays, Perspectives on Leonardo da Vinci, Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing, 20th Century Literature: texts and debates. I got my first class BA (Hons) Literature in 2009 and had to hold myself back from signing up for another course, they have one on Children’s Literature where you can study Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!! (I did have a year out in 2006-7 to complete my PG Cert in Health and Social Care Education when I started my new job lecturing).
I’m now working towards a PhD and am finding the lack of deadlines challenging (I did sign up to the Writer’s Bureau course years ago and never finished because I didn’t have set deadlines). My supervisor has just suggested one though so hopefully that will push me to stop floundering and get on with it.
Academia then is actually a pretty good place for me to be, I really enjoy attending conferences and seminars and training sessions at work, always coming away with ideas but sadly not enough time to implement them all. I find this frustrating because my body can’t keep up with my mind, and there are only so many hours in a day. I think if I didn’t have to earn money I’d make a good eternal student, alongside my writing of course.
I have always been a strategic learner and learnt with a specific purpose, e.g. To write an assessment or to write a lecture to deliver. I need to set myself goals to work toward otherwise I don’t get anywhere.
I hope that my love for learning comes across to my students and that I inspire them to want to read more and find out more than I tell them. One of the biggest skills I learnt distance learning with the OU was that you need to learn yourself and that as you grow older it is less about being taught and more about picking up a book and reading and applying it to what you know or what you see around you (maybe that’s why although I enjoyed school it didn’t completely grab me then). I think that’s probably why yesterday’s topic of reflection appeals to me too, because it is generally a self managed process.
My learning plans
My friend Stacey has completed some Science courses with the OU and she mentioned a course introducing Forensic Science. As my NaNoWriMo novel is a police story I am sorely tempted to sign up. The next presentation starts in May and there is some flexibility about when you complete it (in 6-8 weeks or 5 months). I just need to check if I’ve got enough Tesco vouchers to help pay some of the cost.
I have a few conference presentations coming up and plan to write journal articles on the topics I will be presenting on so that’s going to be a lot of reading and learning.
I would love to learn how to play the guitar
I would love to learn how to paint
I keep putting off the above two because they are ‘physical’ skills, something that you have to learn to do rather than understand. I know that they will be more difficult for me but I still want to try.
I want to keep learning about writing, I’m going to do that by doing it.
What are you/do you need to be learning at the moment?
Does a love of learning start in school or after? What was it that inspired you? Or turned you off?
I’m not sure if I mentioned the furore there was when my poem The Gradual Loss of Me was published on Every Day Poets. It was all about the theme of suicide, with a number of people, both who I know and who I don’t seemingly worried about my intentions in wiriting the poem (it was for an assignment actually!)
Well, I tried to reassure them all that I was OK and that this was not a true expression of how I was feeling.
But having just taken stock and submitted a group of poems I have found 4, yes 4 which share this theme.
Now I am a bit concerned about the potential for concern so just in case I get any acceptances I would just like to explain my influences:
The Gradual Loss of Me – written for the OUs A363 was about the sense of a loss of self and use of the form of a villanelle spiralled thoughts of loss down to its watery end. You can find a link to this on my Writing page.
Son of Suicide – written for the OUs A215 was a response poem based on another poem we were given which had the prompt reference to suicide. You can find a link to this on my Writing page.
My Brother – this unpublished poem written for the OUs A215 is my attempt to understand what might drive a suicide bomber – this is me using poetry as ‘making sense of the world’.
Crumbled – written recently as part of Slingink Scribbling Slam 2010 was inspired by the images from 9/11 of people jumping out of the two towers. Images that are very hard to get out of your head.
And also there is my work in which I have studied mental health disorders including suicide.This is a serious topic which is still fairly hush hush and maybe I’m just trying to make it visible.
Now, what I’m hoping is that some of my submissions on lighter subjects are accepted so that I can prove there are other thoughts in my head – think I’ll keep that Tellietubby poem I wrote a few years ago to myself though ;o)
So what themes do you all find reoccuring in your writing?
I was so concerned that I was clapping for everyone else that as I was crossing the stage I clapped myself, then realised and mouthed why am I clapping myself to the Pro Vice Chancellor – she laughed with me and said I was allowed too (I felt like a bit of an idiot but laughing about it).