School, particularly the skills of reading and writing have always been a struggle. Therefore a reflection of my academic journey has to start with a separation between academic skills and learning. While I found myself in pre-college days struggle to keep up, my college days were filled with extra courses to remediate and make up.
As difficult as the journey has often been, I know that it has been a gift. It has given me opportunities to stay true to the voice of the Lord in my life despite the challenge. Those obstacles that would, or could have prevented me from moving forward ended up being opportunities for the Lord to reveal Himself. This is true whether it was multiple remedial English classes that led to my English teaching endorsement for the state of Washington. Or the multiple attempts of the state teacher’s English competency exam that revealed that God’s hand was on my student teacher placement. Then there was the written exam for my master’s program, that I was sure it was going to be an oral exam. The trauma of waiting outside the exam room knowing that a portion of the grade was determined by my ability to communicate in writing is never far away. Yet, all these experiences are touch points of empathy as I have worked students of every academic level teaching study skills and advising them on their own career paths. It is the story of the struggle, and victories in pursuit of God inspired heart desires that has given credibility my voice. It has been a gift that I treasure.
This journey has resulted in many adaptive skills in order to feed my passion to learn and grow. Austin Kleon, in Steal Like an Artist, outlines various eclectic approaches to acquiring learning. I seem to be in a constant process of receiving input from all aspect of my surroundings, while attempting to connect them to what I have already begun to understand. I am a person who is chewing on the information I take in, whether from the Word of God, culture, movies, or interactions with others. My chewing process mirror that of a cow chewing its cud. It is continually coming up until I have been able to absorb it into those things I have already processed.
In The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking, I found the emphasis on integrity fascinating. The concept of being congruent in all aspect of ones life has been a value I strive toward but I had not really thought of it in terms of my academic pursuit. This book touched on my need to establish my own personal security, so that I am better able to process the new information and perspectives of others, with flexibility and empathy.
My take away from How To Read a Book, was the freedom to let go of those those pieces of information and books that just do not seem to fit. I realized that I need clear questions ahead of time to provide the road signs, so that I can know how to adjust the speed of my reading appropriately. As I pondered the concept of the quality of a source, I found myself questioning my undergrad writing and the push to use sources that were not more than five to ten years old. I agree that the true quality of information is proven over time but this does give some food for thought.
I wish I could say that the skills necessary for an academic pursuit come easy for me now, but that would not be true. Every written activity that I need to engage in requires me to get a running mental start to jump the curb. I am looking forward to the exchange of ideas and to see what new academic skills I will be able to acquire in this every developing process of learning. Because Quit is in fact a four letter word.