Three days ago - or two, depending on how you count days - I started a Master's of education program. It is all through the wonder that is the Internet. I will not have to get dressed to go to class, just like that lazy kid high school program I've seen commercials for on TV. The TV I was watching when I was being lazy. I don't know if it is for high school or college, actually. So maybe I just dissed myself. Do the kids say "dissed" anymore? Is that cool to say still? Never mind, it isn't important. Nor is it important to know the commercial I am referring to. Just know that I am doing a graduate program through the Internet, at my leisure. You really don't even have to know that, though, if you don't want to. Having read it you know it, but you don't have to put any effort into remembering it for easy recall later.
Online classes are nice. I have taken a few of them so far. Two, to be precise, which you know I want to be. Precision is my main focus in life, after eating and sleeping. Sleeping! O! There is something I would like to be able to do again someday. I got distracted again, but that's how this blog writing goes. I haven't slept much or well over the last two days, or three, depending on how you count days. The sleep trouble should hopefully be over soon, I have quit my job. The job that was overnight, forcing me into an unnatural life of being nocturnal. What's good for the raccoon is not good for the whimsical revolutionary. How am I ever going to explain the title of this post if I keep letting these paragraphs get away from me?
The main component of the online classes I have participated in has been the discussion board. The professor posts a question or a topic and then each class member is required to reply to the professor's post and then subsequently respond to several other class member posts. It can be a fun process, and you can learn a lot. I've been hitting the discussion board this morning and have run across some really great thoughts shared by my class members. The first discussion question for the week touched on the differences between the undergraduate and graduate experiences. My favorite response so far has been one that detailed learning as a progression of building upon what has already been learned.
In studying memory in my cognitive psychology class I learned that we are better able to remember and recall information that we are able to tack on to something else that is present in our memory. Anchoring, that's the way I wanted to say it, but "tack on" was all that came to mind. I think an example of this could be how everyone says certain animals taste like chicken. Someone eats rattlesnake for the first time and they say it tastes like chicken. It may or may not taste that way, I don't know, I've never had it, and my perception of chicken taste may be different than yours (I believe I am a super-taster, perhaps I'll write a post about that next), now I can't even control sentences, let alone paragraphs; this sentence is finished. I was attempting to suggest that by saying something tastes like chicken, they are creating an anchor point for this new taste. It will be easier to recall the taste of rattlesnake because they already know what chicken tastes like, and if the snake is similar, then... Never mind, the example is a magnificent failure! Splendid!
So, learning as a progression? Yes, first you learn letters, then you put them into words, then you group words and have sentences, then the sentences never end and you build paragraphs that run away from you in distracted garbles of thoughts, and then you click "publish post" and sit back to admire the wonder that is Ajax's Whimsical Revolution. It is a series of anchors, or foundations, and then chains or steps or walls or however you want to go with the analogy. Line by line, idea by idea. It is a good way to proceed. And that was my favorite thought posted by a classmate.
Now for my contribution to the discussion board. Not (solely) to brag about my brilliance, but to relay my thoughts about a topic, which is why I started a blog in the first place. As a quick aside, is it unprofessional to mention your own blog in your blog? I do it often, and I seem to be doing it even more often-er in this particular post. There it is again! Just wondering.
In my comparison between the undergraduate and graduate experiences I compared formal education to a filtration process. In a filter system there are often several barriers. The purpose of these barriers is to stop the flow of something that is mixed with something else. Whether it is contaminants in air or bacteria in water, there are usually multiple stages for the item to pass through where different unwanted particulates are halted. It might be the case that there are three screens as part of the filter. The first blocks large objects from passing, the second blocks smaller objects, and the third blocks or kills the microscopic objects. Take a water filter, for instance. There might be a filter to block pebbles, but it lets sand through. Then there is a filter that blocks sand, but lets microorganisms through. Finally there is a filter that blasts the microorganisms with some form of energy that kills them, allowing their dead organism bodies to float through into your drinking water.
I guess you probably could have figured out the filtration process on your own, you didn't need me to explain it so fully, but what's done is done. I compared education to a filter to highlight the difference between undergrad and grad students. In elementary school everyone is there. It's a big party and everyone learns. Attendance is just the way it is. High school is pretty much the same, only you can get out of it a little more depending on how attentive or burned out your teachers are. But everyone is there, again. Then you move on to the university. At the undergraduate level there are still a lot of people there, many of whom want to be there to learn, but some who are there for other reasons. There is a filter in place between high school and college, it is called financial security. Okay, that's not what I want to get into, the filter I was suggesting in my discussion board post was that of interest and desire to learn.
College filters out some of the people who aren't interested in learning, making college a better environment to foster learning. When you move on to a graduate program, this filter occurs again and hopefully makes the learning environment even better. That was the point I was trying to make. Because of the different levels of school, hopefully the ones who show up to grad programs are the ones who want to learn, and it is that desire that makes a person a student. But you don't need formal class structure to have that desire, and you don't need an accredited diploma after your studies to make you educated. The desire that drives some people through the filtration system of school to become a refined particle in a specific area of study is a desire that can manifest itself in any person capable of thinking. This means you. I encourage learning in every instance of life. Learn and think and challenge ideas and see what is good. As a revolutionary, whimsical or not, I must note that education always precedes the uprising. Get educated and rise up. The end.
(Coming soon: what is a super-taster, and why do I think I am one?)
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