Teach Yourself Revolution: Good Intentions

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A lot of us sign up for online courses – online education is becoming more and more dynamic and accepted. People do it for enrichment, self-betterment, refreshing skills, dipping our toe into something totally new, for diversionary purposes, for actual university-level degrees. I have signed up so many times for these MOOCs (massive open online courses) and never really participated in a single one until now.

Not surprised, then, when I visited my current course’s webpage to read: “If you have got this far and completed the first test, you are amongst the 45 percent left who started the course.” Three weeks in (one-third of the length of the class), fewer than half are still in the course. According to UK Times Higher Ed online (2013), only about seven percent (!) of MOOC students complete the courses they start. Remarkable.

Then again, it is not surprising – there is nothing holding you accountable. The learning with MOOCs, if you learn or engage at all, is passive at best.

While not nearly as passive (collaboration/group work and interaction is required), I have nearly completed an MA degree completely online but have not finished the last little bit – but I found that even with the level of self-discipline I have (I work mostly at home), finding the time and discipline to keep up on readings and lectures was really tough. If school/studying is not the priority or does not have some immediacy in my daily life (that is, the Coursera class I am taking now is quite relevant to my daily work while my MA had very little to do with my life or career), I am not going to be nearly as motivated to make it a priority.

But every time I sign up, I have high hopes and, even more, the best of intentions.

Stuck on Repeat

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In the same way that life sometimes repeats its ugliest patterns, I keep getting songs stuck in my head. Last night and when I got up today, it was Aimee Mann – “Amateur

“Despite conclusions I drew/
There was a chance you’d surprise me…”

But there are never really any surprises – and somehow that still surprises me!

I am frustrated by my propensity for cultivating and caring for people, friends, etc. and feeling that it is never really returned. It is not always that these people don’t care but has more to do with their priorities being different, their inability to compartmentalize time enough to really dedicate themselves to or focus on one thing at a time. I suppose I get hurt by this at times because, with people where it really matters, I have carved out time and energy to devote to them without expecting (well, thinking I am not expecting anything anyway) the same in return. Because in the moments I devote to them, to friendship or love or what have you, that is my priority. Granted maybe my approach right now is selfish and assumes that others act on friendship as I do. Assumes that they care as much as I do. And I know this is not always the case because I have been on the other side of the equation – I care but not enough to make time, etc.

Perhaps what wounds me more is when I recognize that this pattern has repeated throughout my life. No matter how busy I am, how much work I take on, how many deadlines pile up, no matter how much travel I must do, I am careful to carve out time, reliably, when I care. If I can do that, then how is it that people who swear up and down that I am important to them and who have nowhere near the time constraints that I do (unless they are concealing a lot of information from me, which is perfectly possible) cannot? They seem to disappear from the face of the earth in what feels like precisely the only moments we could have had together.

The bigger question, then, is why am I agonizing and giving it so much importance and attention when clearly the feeling involved is not mutual?