Knocking the dust off this blog

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It’s 2015! I just looked at my blog and my last post was end of 2013. well in my defense I worked 240 days offshore last year. I took a distance learning course and acquired my USCG Captain license for vessels of a 100 ton.

taking an online course and having to self start and study were quite a challenge for me. while i love learning school was never a strength for me. more to the point homework… see I thought I did enough school at school. Consequently my grades suffered even if I participated in class and tested well.

Choosing to learn on my own was a huge gamble. I stood there with the beads of sweat beginning to blister my forehead as the Ladies at the Maritime Academy waited for me to sign up for their course. To take the class down in San Diego would mean missing weeks of work. It would mean a hefty tuition. It would also mean spending money I didn’t have to find lodging a couple hundred miles from home.

I had a big Decision to make.. being thirty-nine with a track record of not being a self starter, I knew I was setting myself up to fail if I took the distance learning course. Come on! I’ve been out of school for nearly 20 years!

Bottom line was, I wanted the License. but, would I want it enough to challenge myself to grow? would I be able to develop some study habits and get thru this? Home study was my only real option. So I pulled the trigger and wrote the check out for the course and materials. I felt like I just jumped off the point of no return. as it turns out there was an acclimation period. I found out that I actually enjoyed learning but I had to learn a whole lot about myself before I could begin to assimilate the material.

first thing I learned was that reading didn’t equal retention. I could read the dry as dust material and not even recall what I read by the time I looked away from the page. I know bad huh? two things. I read fast. I read well. and my mind can be several other places while Im reading something that doesn’t capture my attention. Secondly, the time I day I decided just how much I learned.

I’m still not quite solid on the time of day that worked best. but it certainly wasn’t something I could just call up. it brings back memories of being the farm kid who’s fingers had been frozen all morning from doing chores in Colorado and who’s first class one semester was typing class. some things just don’t work. early morning didn’t quite work for me. but sometimes late nights didn’t either. I think for me, it was the desire, the ability to go at my own pace and be creative about the process that enabled me to get thru it.

I googled, I youtubed, I asked people questions. I drew myself pictures. I even colored with colored pencils. I really wanted to “learn” not just know the right answers. I think that was key. if I had to relegate myself to just satisfying the course material I’d of never stayed interested enough to stay the course.

My note taking ability was atrocious. but it didn’t matter. the act of reading, translating and committing the information to paper was essential for my mental engagement. I actually began to recall what I read. even if I could never find my notes again!

In effect I became my own teacher having to discern what conditions and learning style gave me success. I didn’t beat myself up about taking breaks. I didn’t beat myself up for getting sidetracked. In reality I think I benefited from those occurrences. I think the only thing I really made myself do was be creative about being my own teacher and succeeding in that endeavor. the rest just fell into place. I Seriously wonder what my academic life might have been like had I my adult self’s latitude and freedom to self govern coupled with the knowledge of who I am and who I am not.

My take away is don’t let the fact that you were not scholarly as a youth keep you from the pursuit of knowledge and continued education. you ultimately can tailor anything you like to your learning style to ease your way back into the structure of a classroom environment. don’t let the unknown or the past stand in the way of who you might want to be. even in defeat you’ve learned a thing or two more than you had. and it gives you feedback that increase your chances of success in the next try. you may find yourself in my shoes… loving school of all things.

it just happens to be Brent’s school and I’m the principle!

Captain Brent Eriksen

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