Saturday, February 7, 2009

of habits and contracts

Quite frankly, none of the learning "habits" present a problem. My problem is not any lack of confidence or ambition to learn, but rather, too much. I tend to bite off more than I can chew. Furthermore, I come to the topic as one who is self-taught coming into a formal class. I know what I've picked up informally, but am not necessarily aware of just what it is that I don't know. So, to make this project realistic, I will define my goal as:

1st: Discovering where the gaps in my knowledge lie, as defined by the outline of the 23 Things course.

2nd: Learning whatever facts and skills are needed to plug up those gaps.

Some may notice that this sounds a lot like a teacher pre-testing and then teaching to the needs of a particular student or group of students. You're right. I find myself much in the position of my former ESL students who had picked up some English on the street.

(I must admit to having a strong allegic reaction to self-contracts, and anything else that smacks of group therapy, counseling, business seminars (or anything pertaining in any way, shape, or form to the business culture), or the 1970s. Though the goal remains the same, I prefer to use the language of teaching, or the concept of self-improvement popular in the 18th through early 20th centuries. E.g., list-making is useful; signing my own name to myself as if I were two people just gives me a creepy feeling.)

"Toolbox" -- oh, good grief, enough with the cutesy labels already -- physical and pedagogical resources:
Computer access (check), the "23 Things" blog and its links (check), other web pages covering the topics (check), books and periodical articles (available for free from your public library!) covering the topics (check), knowledge-swapping with colleagues (check), knowledge-swapping with other nerdy types and young people (check), time (uh-oh ...).

Target date:
The end of this program -- and beyond. The set of skills necessary for interacting up to par in the new information age is, and will continue to be, constantly growing. As far as pace is concerned, I'll try for one or more topics a week, at the very least. Some of the 23 "things" are really subsets of one topic, so this progress may not be as slow as it would seem.

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