Learning: Weekly Discover Challenge

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© irene waters 2016

There probably comes a time in everybody’s life when the realisation that they are getting older suddenly hits home. Concerns about the development of altzheimers becomes real and perusing the current information available becomes more pertinent. This happened for me in the eighties. I started to learn ballroom dancing as this satisfied all three of the criteria for the prevention of this dementia – you had to remember the steps, it gave you exercise and it had a social component. For me it didn’t satisfy learning as my ballroom dance teacher believed that the man had to lead and the woman follow  – and I did just that.

In order to test the ability of my brain to retain knowledge I enrolled in a psychology degree at university. Everyone doing an arts degree at Macquarie was condemned to do at least one unit of statistics. In this I discovered a passion that I had not previously known and found it interesting that my brother, having done his pHD in physics had taken up a career in statistics. If I’d discovered earlier my love for the subject I too may have gone down that path. The psychology though was a disappointment. After two years my brain was not stretched at all. I figured that as a nurse I had a background  knowledge and my life experience sufficed for other knowledge I needed. Apart from reading for references it was just too easy. I didn’t feel I was learning anything and I was flying through the exams with distinctions.

It was time to change. Challenge myself. I had always been hopeless at Maths. My mother, who had attempted to tutor me as a child, explained my mathematical non-ability as being the result of a brain which was not logical. I blamed her for putting the tables on the back of the toilet door and then testing me when I exited the small room. The only thing I gained from that exercise was constipation and not having the basic tools I needed to be a force mathematically.

I successfully altered my academic path and changed to a science degree where I initially planned on majoring in biology but finally majored in earth sciences. I continued on with statistics and I now had to do first year maths. This I worried about so I hired a maths tutor who came in the long summer break to get me up to speed. He discovered I danced and wanted to do a 1 hour tute followed by some dancing. This went on for a few weeks and I was improving but he was starting to be amorous so these lessons discontinued. I continued practising and felt fairly confident on my first day in class until the lecturer put an equation up on the board. I probably could have done it had I half an hour to work on it but other students were yelling the answers out within seconds. The equation became longer and longer and I became more and more lost. At the end of the lecture I went to admin and unenrolled. It meant that without it I would be limited in the subjects I could take but I could manage.

We did have one lecturer who taught a lesson I have never forgotten. He said ” You won’t remember any of the lectures you do at university. But if you learn anything it will be that you will know that you don’t know but you will know how to research and discover the information that you need. You will learn to research.”

It is a lesson that I learnt well and it has stood me in good stead throughout all my career changes, in my writing and blogging and particularly as I am now doing a Masters by research.

In response to the Weekly Discover Challenge

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. Commenced a masters by research in 2014.
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19 Responses to Learning: Weekly Discover Challenge

  1. Prior-2001 says:

    Congrats on the masters research and that is one great piece of advice – I call it “hunting” 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a unique problem to have! Most people have the opposite—more challenge than they can handle! I agree with dancing being good for the brain. I took tango for two years, and, since it came with an entirely unfamiliar cultural perspective, kept me engaged (in a good way) to the extent of my abilities!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ask me now and I’d tell you the challenge is more than I want and everytime I have to upgrade the computer or something goes wrong I immediately get a stress headache. I think at the time I really did want to push myself outside my comfort zone. Psychology didn’t do it because of my nursing background and I’d had an interest in it for years. Even biology didn’t do it for me although it was more of a challenge as I knew nothing of fruit flies prior to this. Earth Sciences certainly gave me the challenge I wanted as I went into it knowing nothing. Due to it I knew about the volcano on Tanna which took us there on holiday.
      I’m glad you enjoyed learning the Tango. We learn a tango in ballroom but I think there are several varieties. It is a pity that you couldn’t keep it up.

      Like

  3. noelleg44 says:

    How is the research and writing going, Irene? I used to tell my medical students the same thing about what I taught them: they wouldn’t recall a lot of the content, but they’d learn it when they went back and used it and they’d know where to go for the information they needed. Just laying down some neural pathways!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you couldn’t teach them a more useful bit of information. I am so close to completion Noelle. I have submitted my intention to submit form and doing those fiddly little things like making sure every reference is listed and the format is correct.

      Like

  4. Lisa Reiter says:

    We tried ballroom dancing but my motor cortex was in total rebellion – I was totally rubbish and this became self-defeating in terms of confidence!
    Having been near the top of my degree class in stats I expected my MSc to be a breeze but found the computer systems and electronic access to library materials a bigger part of the challenge. I was up til midnight learning how to input data whilst the youngsters had already finished and probably gone out partying 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Norah says:

    What a multi-talented and highly educated woman you are! The advice to know how to find the information you need is empowering. Well done! A great lesson learned.

    Liked by 1 person

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