Friday, August 21, 2009

Autodidact - Back to School!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I had something in the works. Well, I've been working on it!

Honestly, I've been trying to think how to tell everybody about it. I've tested it out on a few girlfriends, who gave me blank stares or tried to think of something polite to say. I've told my husband and most of my kids, and my sister (who said she understood perfectly). I haven't told my mom yet, who will be tickled over the moon.

Reading Julia Child's 'My Life in France', I ran across a passage that summed it up for me (please pardon / indulge my current love for all things Julia lately.) She said,
"But I was bothered by my lack of emotional and intellectual development. I was not as quick and confident and verbally adept as I aspired to be. This was obvious the night we had dinner with our American friends... When we got into a discussion about the global economy, I got my foot in my backside and ended up feeling confused and defensive. Under pressure, my "positions" on important questions .... were revealed to be emotions masquerading as ideas. This would not do!

Upon reflection, I decided I had three main weaknesses: I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inability to verbalize my ideas); I had a lack of confidence, which caused me to back down from forcefully stated positions; and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful, "scientific" thought. I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was."
Thank you, dear Julia, for summing up for me what I've been feeling, and wanting to do since I was about that same age.

The past thirty years or so I've learned. Picked up this and that. Read widely. But it has always been piecemeal, a bit of this and a bit of that. Having a daughter who homeschools, I learned there was something called "Classical Education" and also the Charlotte Mason method. I began to delve into both. If somebody can educate their children, somebody can educate themselves too. Especially in this day of the internet with so many resources available online.

God's timing is always right, perfect actually. We're here in a tiny condo, with no house chores to speak of, I've cut back on commitments, and fall is just around the corner. So I'm jumping into this process I've wanted to do for years and years. The time is finally right.

Julia's quote summed it up for me. I want to finish becoming who I am, or was supposed to be. I want to learn, soak it up, take it in, and build on it. When I read in the paper what is going on in Israel I'd like to be able to find it on a map, know something of its history, and how it affects politics today. I'd like to be an informed voter with a good understanding of our government and the issues at hand, I'd like to be able to figure out how much wallpaper or carpet or window treatment fabric to buy. I'd like to write better, understand the changing of the seasons and why leaves lose their color. I'd also like to speak to my sprinkler guy in Texas with the big sombrero, and have a stronger back. Better stomach muscles would be an added benefit. So - it begins! Here's what I'm studying, beginning this fall:

Ancient History (Egypt, Greece and Rome) (TruthQuest material)
Geography (of that area) (Library books and computer programs)
Science (Basic and Astronomy) (Library books and computer programs)
Language Arts (focusing on vocab and reading classic literature)
(Very) basic math (computer programs)
Pilates (at home or in class near my home)
Knitting (my first sweater)
Esther (Beth Moore study at my church)
Computer (classes at the Mac store and self-taught at home)

Next year when we're finally at the lake, I plan to begin piano lessons and Spanish with Rosetta Stone, and continue the other studies, building on them in a chronological way. I'll be working with a four year plan, covering the entire gamut at a pretty elementary level (some will be pre-middle school), then covering it all again from a middle schooler's perspective, then eventually I'll get to the high school level! Subjects I'm more interested in will be studied at a deeper level. I love history, would like to be able to look through a telescope and identify stars, have a basic vocabulary of Spanish, whip Algebra and become a fabulous knitter. The first two 'four year plans' will likely only take a year or so, then I can slow down a bit.

I know some won't understand why on earth I'd bother with this. But some will. Maybe some will join me? I've put a few links on my sidebar for those interested. There's a desire deep inside me to learn. I think it's God-given, and God-honoring to do something with it. There's a term for it, I found: Autodidact. Or Self-education. Maybe fully-certified N.E.R.D. Or finishing discovering myself, which sounds a little "When Stella Got Her Groove Back".

So brace yourself, you're bound to hear all about Egypt and mummies and pyramids and King Tut, and why Ancient Rome is so important to all of us, and stars and planets and constellations and why leaves turn in the fall. I've invested about $250 so far into my notebooks, guides, computer programs and books. Most of the rest of it will be found on the shelves of our local library, just waiting for me to haul them home. I can't wait to begin!


joyknits said...

Congratulations - GO for it!!!

Becky said...

I love this! I admire you for it! I have taken some FREE online things and have enjoyed them all. Mostly biblical things and studies. I have also taught myself to knit in the last few years, and keep learning more about that.

I hope you'll share what you learn. I am always up for new info. This sounds like so much fun.

Willow Creek church used to have classes you could take on line, taught by college professors. You might check and see if they are still offered. Have fun!!

Robin said...

Hooray for you! What a great undertaking and I admire you so much for doing what most of us just think about!
I will be cheering you on!

Nancy said...

Good for you, Bev!! My husband just went back to school to finish his degree. Maybe I should take some time and devote it to studies like you're doing while he's at his class one night a week. Why, oh, why weren't we interested enough to learn all this stuff when it was taught in school?? My mind definitely was not on school most days! There were too many other distractions, I guess. I think we have things backwards....we should be working a job (hard labor!) when we're kids and have lots of energy and then when we're ready to slow down a bit, that's when we should do the studying/learning. Please keep us posted....maybe you could give the rest of us a few lessons along the way. :)

Love your new header, btw. It might not be new, but I always read you on bloglines so I rarely see your actual site. Very cute!

Eagles Wings said...

You go girl!

Val said...

How fun! Be sure to check your local colleges/universities for lifelong learning programs, as well. We have a great one close to us that features classes on everything from Greek Mythology to cheese tasting, flower arranging, and the history of architecture! Most of the class have about 20 participants, the majority of whom are retired. The classes normally cost about $45 or so for 4 two hour sessions.

Just a lass hiking with Jesus said...

Very cool! Good on ya! Wishing I was more organized so that I could have the time to delve into that myself. But that is not in God's plan for me at the moment.

Gretchen said...

Here is a link to some Drs. who happen also to be classical education homeschoolers. Just something for you to add to your bag o' tricks.

I am so thrilled for you, Bev. Why not?!!! I'll be excited to learn as you learn because as i've learned over the past 3 years following your blog, it's clear that if you're excited about something, we'll be excited about it, too. :) And it's one of the things I so love about you. Blessings on your head, friend.

Linda said...

I do understand Bev and (as Jane Austen would say), "I am all admiration!"
When my daughter-in-law began homeschooling her children, one of the huge side benefits was learning right along with them. She said she wasn't sure whether she'd forgotten so much or that she had never learned it, but she definitely enjoyed it.
I would love a creative writing class, or music theory. I am proud of you for doing more than talking about it. I will be cheering you on - and who knows, maybe I'll do a little something too.

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

How exciting!!! If I didn't have 4 young kids, an in home day care, and a husband starting a church I'd quickly jump on board with you. Makes me want to do it too!!!!

I can't wait to hear about all your learning!

Linds said...

Fantastic, Bev! I have been raised to believe that learning never ends, nor should it, and you have an inquiring mind, and so you will learn and grow, and be totally fascinated as you do so.
When I get home, I will check out the titles of some amazing books I have read based on ancient Rome, and Egypt, and email you. Your courses sound wonderful!

Rhonda said...

Hi Bev:

I commenced my homeschooling venture in 1996 when my two daughters were 10 & 12. In 1998 I had a little boy, who I am also homeschooling. I am 52 and my husband is 66. We have been married 26 years. (we had a late start with the children!)

I have MANY times thought of re-educating myself, just as you are.I loved everything you wrote in "Autodidact" - it was worded beautifully and expressed exactly how I feel.

My additional point is I have been AMAZED at the quality and quantity of educational materials I learned of through homeschooling. My personal interest is in Math, History and Vocabulary.

We have a big 4-bedroom house and would like to downsize. When life slows down a bit, I can't wait to follow in your tracks. Your current living situation is perfect timing.

Learning is a life long journey - Enjoy!

Susanne said...

You got guts girl! Good for you! I'm sure it will be quite an adventure.

Chris said...

Bev - I think that's awesome! Good or you!

By the way, as a homeschooling mom, I've learned that in the fall, leaves don't actually "change" colors, they just lose their green color - which is chlorophyll. As the days get shorter and cooler, the chlorophyll fades away, leaving the true colors of the leaves. Isn't that cool?!

Kelly said...

Yay you! Love the way you emabrace life and jump in with both feet. I'm more of a wader, but you inspire me:-)

Sarah said...

Not laughing--understanding completely :) Some things are kicks, and some things kick in and stick. Like knitting and sewing for me! So yes, I understand. And you're always welcome to tag along next spring and "homeschool" with us some--we're studying Ancient Egypt, too!

toronto realtor elli said...

Congrats and good luck. By the way, I love how the fact that you live in a condo influenced your decision. Sweet.

Best regards, Elli.

Barb said...

As you mentioned, this doesn't surprise me at all. I'm so glad that the right time has finally arrived for you. I know how much you're going to enjoy this.

Nope. Not one bit surprised. xoxoxo

Judith said...

Wasn't at all surprised when you called, and told me your plans about all this learning.

Seeing the long list felt a little daunting. (Had to look that word up). I am eager to see what you think about things you'll be learning. Talk abot a journey!

Anonymous said...

Beth Moore studies that I am completely fascinated with are.... A Woman's Heart AND Patriarchs ....I recommend both for your learning pleasure.

Also J. Vernon McGee's Bible about a wealth of information. I am still in shock at the information I have learned through his Through the Bible is Five Years.

Congrats to you and good luck to you. I am a graduate student...going after my doctorate. So, all I can say is continue lifelong learning .... it is so worth it and the rewards are far more than you can imagine. I think it helps in our personal walk with the Lord and shows us what makes human nature, human nature.

Karen said...

All I can say is, "YOU GO GIRL!!" I think it is awesome!! I, too, am looking forward to learning right alongside my children as we homeschool. I think it's awesome!! Love and blessings, Karen

Beck said...

Fun! I hope you have a wonderful time. And I love that Julia Child quote, too.

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Oh, I love this, Bev. Love, love, love it! It's something I would do -- or would love to do! I'll be watching your progress, eager to see how it goes. And I hope I'll one day follow in your footsteps.

Anonymous said...

I have to say the movie inspired me too. Don't laugh...It made me think that at almost 42 my life isn't over and there is still time to find my place. I just don't know excatly how yet. I'm praying. How did you decide the subjects you decided?

Kim said...

Im not quite sure I understand why, but your post just made me cry. lol Seriously, though. It did. I currently homeschool my children. I plan each year what to teach. I guess it never occured to me to make a plan for just "me". What a wonderfully inspiring idea. I love it.
(Maybe it has something to do with being 40 and fearing my approaching empty nest)