Open to learning

It has been a couple of years since I sat some exams, and I have been very happy spending my time in more creative pursuits. I have got out of the house a bit more, examined the world of podcast and community creation to a greater extent, and spent a lot of time with my family and friends.

Now, though, I am getting the craving to learn again. I am always learning, obviously, given what a clean slate I have to begin with, and what a poor memory I have for retaining information. When I watch films, I learn. When we talk in the comments, I learn. When I read books, I learn. We all do.

However, I’m looking for something a bit bigger. The problem is that at the moment, I know I have no desire to go on to higher things in my chosen career. That probably means I have made the wrong choice, but that is a whole other conversation.

I was perusing the web for distance learning, and the number one choice seems to be theΒ Open University. I didn’t do the University thing, but this couldn’t be less like the university I hear about all the time. For a start, I am amazed at the prospect of theΒ Open Degree. Rather than sticking to a structured set of modules for, say, an English degree, you can select modules from all over the place. Ranging from history, to science, to child-care, to Shakespeare, to nursing, to astronomy, the choice is quite massive.

I put together a degree I think I would be happy doing, taking into account the rather complicated structure of three levels and required points to be gained at each level. It’s not a degree I am after, in particular, although it is always good to get something to recognise your learning. Better than just reading a book and pronouncing yourself proficient, I suppose.

It’s quite a lot of money, as higher education often is, but as a long term process it is not quite so painful as dropping everything and going back to school would be. Plus, it has all the added benefits of distance learning – being able to go at your own pace (quite fast for me), and being able to pick it up when and where you like.

It all sounds good. I’m not quite in the right place money-wise, just yet. And even if I was, I’m not convinced that I would be confident enough to start such a big project right now. I think it’s a fabulous idea though, and it’s definitely a thought that has lodged itself firmly in the back of my mind.

13 thoughts on “Open to learning

  1. *raises hand*

    here’s what i don’t get… people learn to increase knowledge, usually with an aim to improve their standing in a chosen career, which in turn should increase income / job opportunities.

    so with a degree, you pick a subject and by passing that subject, prove you know more than the next person who maybe hasn’t done so. although part of me thinks all degrees are pointless in the first place*, a degree in nothing specific must be even less use given it doesn’t prove your better than the next person at anything.

    i like the idea of learning what you like, but i can’t see how it’ll ever pay for itself.

    *mostly for insisting on teaching increasingly outdated methods and now useless practical skills.

  2. All very good points. I suppose it is not the degree in itself, but the motivation to do something. If you say, hey go learn about astronomy, I might take a peek out the window. If you say, hey take this course in Astronomy, I might be more likely to learn something.

    And, as you say, most degrees are useless, and these days, unless you are studying to be a doctor, I think it’s more about showing you can put the time and effort in than anything else. Which I suppose this does. To an extent.

  3. true. but couldn’t you pick one subject that you liked a lot and be the best at that? instead of… well everything πŸ™‚

  4. I think you should go for it. I did my degree in History but never intended to pursue a career that required it, I just enjoyed learning. I keep looking at OU degrees and, one day, will get the motivation to do one. I think learning for the enjoyment of it is worth the outlay πŸ™‚

  5. Let us face it, learning for fun is not worth the effort, unless your Chinese surname is Hue and you have already completed your B. A. and your M. A. In that case, it is worth it to grab your Ph. D. just for fun because of the prefix your names gets…

    There are other ways to go about learning just for fun if you want and at a future time these skills can be used to branch to other things and careers, if you wish.

    Take Scuba Diving for instance, you start of just doing for fun, you like it you become better at it more responisible at it, so you do extra stuff like take a CPR/first aid and oxygen provider course so that you can become a resuce diver and now all of sudden you are now more variable at work (from your CPR first aid skills) might even lead to to a job as a Scuba Instructor, where this silly hobby starts making money for you. (Not enough) (And you pick up some silly skills like teaching which makes you more valueable at work)

    Now in your case, I am still confused in your bucket list by the use of the word “in” when you look for Nessie IN Loch Ness, too me this implies that you are going under the surface, as the use the word “on” would place you presumably on a boat at the surface (or treading water). Since you plan to never go under the water in a a submarine, I can only assume that you will take the above paragraph as advice as to get around this little problem…..

  6. I think learning something for fun, that you want to learn, is where it’s at. It doesn’t have to relate to your career (either current or planned). If you like it, go for it, it could be knitting.

    A university (distance learning or otherwise) isn’t the only way, though. There may be other ways, like with Astronomy there are probably a few local astronomy groups that could help you out.

    I like working on my computer science degree because it exposes me to ideas and concepts that I’ll never see in my current job (like assembly language, circuit design, etc.). My wife taught herself a little bit of jewelry making, then started taking classes specific to particular aspects of jewelry making at various artsy/craftsy type places.

    Perhaps you could teach yourself some PHP and Mysql and code up a wiki? πŸ˜‰

  7. I will check out Open University for myself, seeing as I am looking for options, too. Thank you for the inspiration.

    To me, learning for the experience of it is sublime. I feel so enriched to learn about something I have always been interested in, or finding an area of study I didn’t know I was interested in. Yes, there are lots of different ways to go about it, with varying price tags, but I do like the university type of community experience, virtual or not. I like the structure of it, and connecting with like-minded people. I know we live in the real world of money and bills, but life is about a lot more than that. There’s got to be a nice balance in there somewhere. πŸ™‚

  8. At the risk of losing my internet access for another couple of days I thought I would try to re-write my previous comment.

    I know nowadays you can get a degree in anything but this sounds a bit like a degree in nothing. It seems like you would be putting a lot of time, money and effort in to get something that has no value to you beyond the learning experience.

    Is a degree the correct way to go for you? If you are unsure what eventually want to do is there an introductory course available that may help you form a clearer view of what is involved or what you want to do?

    Is there an option to convert your degree in nothing to a degree in one or more of the component subjects by doing an extra ‘year’? I realise OU does not work in years but it is the easiest way to make the point.

    I think in the end the decisions you make have to be based on what you want to achieve. If you only want to learn a bit of each of your chosen subjects then the fact you have structured it into a degree course is almost incidental.

  9. I don’t have an answer to any of those questions, Steven. And that’s kinda the point. If I have no idea what I want to do or which direction I want to go in, why does it matter if it’s a degree or not? I care little for the paperwork at the end of it, but like the idea of the structure of learning.

    As it happens, I have found something else that I am more interested in, actually moments after posting this, but the conversation is still interesting.

    I don’t know why the word ‘degree’ scares people so much.

  10. I don’t think the word degree is scary more that if you are going to put all the effort in to get a degree then to most people they want a degree that has some career benefit. For you it is as I said in the final sentence of my previous comment. The fact you end up with a degree is almost incidental.

    In then end what matters is that you get what you want out of it.

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