Friday, May 18, 2012

How to fall through the cracks....

     All through April I contemplated the so-called platitude haste makes waste with serious thought and with the classes I've been attending- perfect attendance, I would add- in mind. If I were to rephrase this too often quoted fragmented sentence it would be something like this:
     "There is nothing quite so vulgar as those who execute everything in a rushed or hurried manner. Manners require patience and time sufficient to make yourself understood or do anything well. The vulgarity of haste is a special rudeness which leaves no room for reciprocation- affirmative or rebuttal- to the executor of such handling. Therefore, if the recipient is left with no recourse than to see the backside of their slapdash non-companion whisking themselves away they are free to take the trashed material directly to the trash can from whence it came. It is now where it belongs."
     When examined in this way, it appears to be a harsh way of life. More recently I've come to realize that I don't want haste to be a part of my way of life. It's not a worthy life for me considering my dedication to excellence and making my output to be one of true quality. Attempt to put this idea across to the average cashier in a check-out section of a store these days and you'll get a blank stare, a bag shoved in your face and your change spilled on the floor. Does anybody like that ? How about people who are in such a hurry to get somewhere in their car that they ignore traffic signs, lights and pedestrians to the point of danger?
     If I refuse to work or do anything in a slapdash manner then it only makes perfect sense that I could not and would not learn anything that way nor would I choose to do so. Even if I learned quickly I would pace myself according to my known abilities. If I compare my most recent educational experience to my first career choice education at Emily Griffith Opportunity School I would have every reason to expect that I could learn the material offered in the amount of time prorated for a Graphic Arts degree in two years. It certainly looked feasible to me when I signed on for the program.
     My second thoughts at this juncture, considering the outcome of this past module are in agreement on one sole premise. Despite my great potential, earnest work and perfect attendance, this last month has been an abysmal failure. One, because there was much to learn (for several reasons I will discuss further) and two, there just wasn't sufficient time in my estimation.
     In the Monday and Wednesday classes I was fully engaged with all the coursework- in class, online and homework- and most of the paperwork is in my possession and voluminous. However, a misunderstanding on two key projects has apparently derailed the entire effort, according to Mr. Harris, and a recent horrific event in my neighborhood made it impossible for me to rectify these at the end. I don't understand why my final mark rested on one or two projects when I had done so well through most of the class sessions. I know I did well on the Final Exam. The premise made no sense to me at all. 
     Tuesdays and Thursdays in my Design 103 class were stunted by the absence of the right computer for my first class which was rectified by the second class but immediately set me behind. I struggled all the way through the course because I was trying to familiarize myself with a MAC PRO laptop computer and learning brand new software along with classroom instruction which often took on the form of intervention rather than hands-on for the student (myself) and strictly verbal instruction from the professor when I needed more one-on-one. I'm not criticizing the instructor, merely mentioning that it didn't work in my case. I'm a tactile learner and worker so this shouldn't have been difficult and I did learn a lot of new material and methods in that class- it just wasn't quick enough- my fault, I suppose- or a sufficient amount of material to pass. I should have received and been familiarized well with the MAC itself prior to this class. It wouldn't have been such a struggle otherwise. I believe the instructor was well aware of this even though he may not acknowledge that fact. He assumes everyone can keep pace with him but that would be impossible since he is prodigious in his craft and skill. That is admirable but not exactly conducive to learning in my case. I learn more through observation and tactile use in most cases but this instructor should be nicknamed Roadrunner.
     In both classes I witnessed more than two people receive perfect attendance awards who I knew to have missed at least four classes, consecutively and non-consecutively. I know this because my attendance was 100% from the very first days of the module. Incidentally, I have not received a single such award, in these modules or the first, which was Psych 101 in which I received a 95% and had perfect attendance. I did not know they gave out such awards but they are obviously some kind of a joke.
     During my second module I woke up with a head cold on the second day of my Computer Fundamentals class and I was out for three consecutive classes for that course and English 101. I was told to drop English 101 and found out later that the instructor failed me in the course when she should have just sent in an incomplete. I attended the first class only. I switched over to night classes after that but for some unknown reason my name has not shown up on any roll roster from the time of the change and I had to be written in instead. Perhaps that created some confusion for the schedule coordinator but it's inexcusable, nonetheless.
     I started to think back to my initial appointment to meet with a CollegeAmerica rep and financial advisor. I was informed then that these were fast-track online courses and it's true that I agreed that it was possible for me but I have found circumstances, of any kind, make keeping up impossible. I have made those circumstances clear but I still don't know if anyone concerned really understands what happened. Who would've known I'd get sick and miss classes? I certainly didn't because I almost never get sick.
     At the end of this last module I felt very discouraged when I was shown my percentage in Design 103 and with good reason since it is certainly the most important reason why I have been attending classes in Graphic Arts. The GE courses were way beneath my abilities. Actual college English courses would've been infinitely more interesting and engaging for me than Psychology of Motivation and Interpersonal Communication. Not a bit of it was anything I didn't already know from being strong in the workforce from 1977 up to the present and my independent studies I have kept engaged in all my life. I'm basically a closet nerd. I have been a licensed professional manicurist/nail tech all that time and a store-front salon owner to boot for seven years within that time period. I attended college through the 80s in music performance specializing in flute and became a published poet in 1988 and a published in print author in 2006 with my historical book Robinson and Crawford County. Numerous articles of mine have been published on the internet by various web site owners besides writing and building my own web site on the topic of European castles. I have traveled extensively abroad and speak several languages fluently. I consider myself to be a linguist as I can recognize most languages on sight. Learning is not a difficulty for me at all.
     However, I do believe that the college I have been attending isn't right for me at this stage of my life even though I consider myself to be a super-learner. I feel it isn't a good fit because I am just that and it's highly misunderstood to say it nicely. I have a tendency to finish reading textbooks in a single session because I am compelled to do so and much repeated the material become stale quickly for me, particularly if it is poorly written. I rephrase much of it for myself and go deeper into further research. I believe I do this because I don't feel I really know material until it's as familiar and under my feet as an old song. I have more confidence in myself when I do this and have perfected it in more recent years.
     My methodology is now rooted in the independent research I've been doing for six years so I cannot see myself working (or learning) in any other manner. Going through material just to put a permanent label on something is too foreign for me and strips away the pride I have in the work I do. Graphic Arts and art in general is second nature to me and I've been out there for a long time at various mediums in my arts and crafts. I'm more familiar with studying intensely which requires time to be done right and well. Learning this way is intrinsic to my very being. I wish all other students well and hope this does not discourage anyone. I just happen to be different and I won't give up until I find the right fit for my mode of learning to acquire the knowledge I need.      
Evelyn Wallace

The Castle Lady

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Social Networking and Me

     About eleven years ago I remember my first internet days as full of awe. My first search was simply the word castle and they continue to be a fascination for me that I'm certain will never die. How do I know that's true? Well, I have been researching and reading about castles for years- a long time before the internet ever came to be as popular as it is today. I have books on castles that I bought and have perused from the time I was a teenager. Through the years I spent any extra money I had on books- not just on castles but they have been a particular obsession of mine. My free-time preoccupation piqued with my dream trip in 2001 to see a portion of the castles I read about and fawned over in large photographic tomes.
     As a result, I may not appear to be a very sociable person most of the time except in more recent years, of course. Don't get me wrong. I feel very comfortable meeting people in all walks of life whether they are in cultural functions or stimulating situations and events. It helps when people are of the curious type such as myself. Since 1977, the largest part of my days were spent talking with and working out myriad problems with mostly females of all ages, professions and backgrounds. I learned a lot, during the heyday of my manicuring profession, about women that may have remained a mystery to me for the entirety of my existence. Just being a woman doesn't prepare you for the things you learn from women but it certainly helps, all in all. Sisterhood wins out in a way brotherhood could never measure up. That being said, people are just as important to me as my interests but it always helps if we forage new grounds together.
     This brings me to my subject of internet social networking of which I've only dabbled with during my time online. I've tried some traditional and not so traditional forums but to me they are very alike in that there is a division between those who are looking for a mate and those who truly want to engage in socializing on a somewhat less personal level. My forte is the latter rather than the former and is one of the reasons that I have never delved much deeper than my blog, e-mail and occasional IMing. You won't find me on Facebook for a very good reason, in other words, not neglect. I've used MSN Messenger for IMing which I still prefer to tweeting (I'm not on Twitter), and LinkedIn has become a necessity because of my ambitions and the fact that it is a superior forum for serious professionals.
     Facebook is self-described as being a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. This service is meant to help people keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, post links and videos and learn....etc. What concerns me the most is that through MSN Messenger and their Live Spaces (which started out as MSN Spaces- blogs, basically) and their unique way of connecting people, Facebook has taken its place and offered none of what the internet truly has to offer. That would be the world itself, in all its splendor. My opinion is that Facebook and copycat forums do nothing more than sport the superficialities of people and don't offer their adherents a chance to explore anything else. Actual web sites offer a lot more than Facebook ever will and there is more to be said about exchanging e-mails with someone half-way across the world that you genuinely like than a person with an enticing photo who, in reality, would probably pass on the other side of the street if you'd been beaten and robbed and don't look anything like their photo, in reality, to boot.
     To me, the internet connected me with a world I ordinarily would have to get in a plane and gallivant all over the globe to find and chat with and if I'm wrong someone show me clear evidence to support otherwise. It is not a place to reinvent yourself because that's just conceit. Perhaps it is a place to make your dreams come true. I have no problem with that because it's what I'm basically doing and enjoying immensely.  
When dreams die life is a barren field covered with snow... -Langston Hughes

The Castle Lady

Sunday, May 06, 2012

A time to be silent....

     The most invisible aspect of this world is the mind of a person- until they open their mouth.
-The Castle Lady
     For those of you who might be unaware of why you haven't been seeing a lot of output from me this year, thus far, I wanted to tell you all about what is happening right now and give you a possible idea of what to expect in the near future. Beginning in February of this year I re-entered the world of career college for the third time in my life and by the mid-point of 2013 will have a degree in Graphic Arts if everything goes as planned. It's been a long period of time between my last class at a city college university and this year so it's probably not necessary for me to go on about the difficulty of having my daily routine thrown to the wind or getting back into a modus operandi of absorbing knowledge quickly rather than at my own pace which varies. Perhaps my memories of those days are a bit nostalgic- in the best sense of the word. Learning is a manifold process but I've discovered that I have become very set in my ways of my mode of learning as opposed to the fast track way in which higher education school systems choose to teach and that is all-inclusive of any age, gender or cultural heritage.
     Libraries now regularly have noisy interactive sessions for pre-school age children that send serious scholars scampering away from libraries in droves. Allowance of cell phone usage, video game interaction on the available computers and a general non-enforcement of the age-old quiet rule seems to be prevalent- to my chagrin. I know I'm not alone in being perturbed but no one else seems to be willing to speak up. Noise tolerance is becoming a real chore and disturbance and distraction is no longer confined to libraries but any place where silence is generally preferred over noise. Whatever may be said about interactive learning I cannot believe that anyone can learn anything by talking over the instruction. I don't know who originally quoted this but it bears repeating: No one ever learned anything without spending at least one half of their time listening.
     My first course back in February was Psych 101 and I was very interested in taking this as a first course because it happened to be my favorite in high school. I figured that it would be a great refresher course and perhaps I would learn something new along the way since I hadn't taken any Psychology courses in college. As it turned out I had taken on most of the information independently through the years according to my own interests. Left brain/Right brain theories were explored and some of the information resembled Earl Nightingale pep-talk courses I have perused through audiobooks over the years. Some information was new to me but most of it was knowledge I had already acquired through self-study. A revelation to me as I looked around the classroom were the number of female students who wanted to talk about anything else but the course materials and primarily themselves while the minutes and hours ticked away. Instead of listening to the professor (which was delivered by him in a very engaging and contemporary style, I must add) we were often just sitting around listening to someone's hard luck story instead of the subject matter. I pored over the book at night in my free time and was pleasantly surprised. However, to be honest, I certainly didn't sign on to listen to cult of personality mishmash and I'm certain no one else did either.
     Nothing much was said by the prof throughout that four week course until the last week and by then it was rather late in the day to say anything about how disrespectful this bunch of magpies really were. I kept hearing him tell them how smart they all were while key people either floundered or just tried to muddy on by themselves in the proverbial quiet desperation most people endure in such situations. It didn't phase me because I had already explored all those ideas and I'm a writer. It was easy for me to do most of the work in my free time while the classroom magpies carried on. I'm not surprised that my fellow group research buddies dumped the project on me because getting anything accomplished in that environment was next to impossible. It wasn't without resentment that I handed in the paper with my name and two other persons who did none of the actual research, typing the paper to format or any of the actual writing work at all. Overall I'd have to say I really need to get more assertive about delegating chores to people. I'll have to do it someday so I probably should start pulling my mitts on now.
     Perhaps I should tell you that my writing will be a little less than my usual prolific output but I don't want to mislead you in any way. I may start actually writing something on this particular blog every day, in fact. Just don't make any bets concerning the near future- in speaking or writing I make it count or I don't say anything at all.
The Castle Lady
with affection of a quality that has no fear of time !