Tag: Education

Can I Learn from someone I Don’t Like?

 

In the world of writing, I’m a newbie. As far as expertise in the genre which I’m writing, I have none. For these reasons, I sought instruction from someone considered an authority in the genre of science fiction and fantasy: Orson Scott Card.

I purchased the book How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy over a year ago, shortly after I decided to write a young adult fantasy novel. Rave reviews and recommendations from writers I trusted spurred me to make the investment in this slim volume.

At that point, I hadn’t read a single book written my Mr. Card. It didn’t matter. As an instructor, he came highly recommended. As a writer, his long list of published novels, many of which were best sellers, and his numerous awards seemed like firm second opinions.

Then I read Pathfinder. It’s an interesting blend of science fiction and fantasy (since the main character, Rigg, has a special ability). I enjoyed the story – right up until the end.

More recently, I read Ender’s Game. I noticed that Card used the same style of prefacing each chapter with a scene happening outside the main action as he had used in Pathfinder. They divulged information and motivation for the benefit of the reader. In that book, these scenes were actually things that happened in eons past that would eventually help the reader understand the conclusion of the book.

I surmise the purpose for these additions is three-fold: build tension, exposit backstory and offer information the protagonist doesn’t have.

I don’t care for this style of writing, especially not for young adults. I’ve worked with reluctant and struggling readers for the past seven years and this sort of writing confuses and frustrates them.

Okay, but Shari, isn’t that just a small percentage of the young adult population? You might be surprised to learn that according to findings presented by Scholastic only 50% of young adults claimed to read for pleasure. Percentages decline for 16-18 year olds (school work and extracurricular activities are peaking then).

Back from the statistical tangent: Orson Scott Card is surely an accomplished writer and an authority in his field. I haven’t been impressed with his fiction writing.

The How to Write book netted a slightly different response. Card freely shared his methods for finding ideas and nurturing them to the point where they can support a story. His insight into world building – essential for fantasy writers – helped me outline rules for the magic used in my current novels.

In short, Card taught me important things. If I had decided not to read his writing instructional manual because I didn’t care for a couple fiction stories he’d written, my writing would have suffered.

We can all think of experts we aren’t impressed with in one way or another. Why would the field of writing be any different? Any expert with the inclination to share their wealth of knowledge deserves our attention.

What are your experiences with this phenomenon? Have you ever been surprised to learn from someone who your preconceived notions tempted you to disregard?

Graduation Celebration

When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it” – Yogi Berra

One journey culminates with a gathering of people whose support made the journey bearable.

I’m proud to display my outstanding graduate award and as soon as my diploma arrives in the mail, I’ll be putting it in a place of honor as well.

My motto: Don't just do it, do it best
My motto: Don’t just do it, do it best

Unfortunately, the end of this road means the beginning of another one. There is no standing still in life – only moving forward.

I’ve already laid out my writing schedule (along with my summer list of projects that need to be completed around the house). For more on this, come back in two weeks.

Today, however, my son, my niece and I will celebrate our accomplishment with family and friends. Feasting on homemade food, the three of us will bask in the glory of this moment.

Then, we’ll begin again. A job hunt for my son will eventually yield him a paid position, the first of many in his working life. Beginning a Master’s program is up next for my niece.

Fortunately, all of you will get to join me as my quest for completing a young adult fantasy novel becomes central. I’ll throw my name into a few hats for paid gigs. But mostly, I’ll do the work in order to reap the benefits of my perseverance.

In fact, completing my Bachelor of Arts degree only reaffirms that I am capable of climbing the mountain named Publishing and leaving my flag atop it.

Is it Summer Yet?

Only two more Wednesday blogs until my job gets its summer furlough. In four more Wednesdays, I’ll be officially finished with my Bachelor of Arts degree.

Thankfully, the sun has been shining. In Oregon, May and June are often wet and windy. God demonstrates his sense of humor by making a mockery of most weather reports for the Pacific Northwest.

This year, I’ve been able to stop taking that little white supplement of Vitamin D on most days. My preferred method of garnering my daily allotment is soaking it in through my dermis. Sunshine replenishes that essential vitamin and sparks my creativity.

This time of year brings on a different mentality in my students. They are ready to break the chains of school schedules. Who can blame them? Of course, that adds stress to my job.

After a wild day at the middle school, the only way I can focus on accomplishing my papers and projects for the last undergraduate courses I will ever take (*pumps fist wildly, while dancing around her chair*) is by reminding myself of the completion date.

The end is in sight. I’m no racehorse; you won’t see me sprinting wildly and with abandon toward the finish line. Who has the energy for that?

That goal line is like a carrot dangled on the far side of a gaping chasm. (Okay, maybe a glittering diamond ring or two-weeks in Cozumel.) A single rope gyrates in the wind, but if I don’t look down, I can make it across. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time…until finally – I’m across!

The countdown may be continuing, but I refuse to focus on what comes next. It’s not the destination – it’s the journey.

Do you agree?

Check out: THREE MONTHS OFF? What I wouldn’t give for a summer vacation by Kristen Lamb.

Still Learning at Every Age

This is borrowed from Carla Foote the blog manager for Weekly Refill.

“Apparently when Michelangelo (painter, sculptor, architect, poet – original Renaissance man) was 87 years old he said, “Ancora imparo” – I am still learning.

Reasons to stop learning (most of us won’t articulate these, but they are in the back of our minds when we step back rather than forward towards a learning opportunity):

  • Fear – of what others will think, of looking stupid, of being wrong, of not being able to accomplish whatever we want to learn
  • Time – to accomplish something new, we need to set aside time, make it a priority and stop doing activities that are less meaningful
  • Settling – the comfort and safety of the known can cause us to settle for staying stuck, rather than trying new things
  • Lack of      imagination – we have never pictured ourselves doing the new thing – being a lifeguard, writing a book, climbing a mountain, speaking in front of a crowd, telling our story

Reasons to keep on learning:

  • Stretching – it’s as good for our minds as it is for our muscles
  • Stewarding – we have gifts and influence we can invest for the kingdom, in every season of life
  • Serving – the lifeguard learns so she can save a life – I learn so I can serve my community in some way”

What are the reasons you give for either backing away from new experiences or embracing them with gusto?

As a middle-aged college student, I’ve obviously decided that I have more to learn. In fact, when I graduate next month *cheesy grin* I will still want to keep learning.

If I stop learning, I believe I’ll shrivel up and die. My brain craves new information and experiences. I don’t want to ever say, “I’m too old for that.”

This old dog is happy to learn new tricks.

Feeling Pressure: Learning to Perform under It

Image courtesy of 123rf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One of my professors assigned two papers that are due at the same time.”

This from my youngest son, a young man who believes he’s headed into the marketing industry. I’m sure once he’s there, his employer will never assign him multiple projects that share the same due date.

Yeah, right. What universe does he plan to live and work in? Certainly not the American one. Read more

Things I’ve done for the Last Time in my College Career

If only it was the last time I paid tuition...
If only it was the last time I paid tuition…

Everyone loves new things. People everywhere exclaim over the excitement involved in the “firsts” of life:

  •   First kiss
  •   First date
  •   First child
  •   First job
  •   First house
  •   First car

And the list could go on indefinitely – depending on the scope of a person’s experience.
Today, I’d rather take a few moments to focus on some “lasts” in life. Aren’t there some of these that we could celebrate, as well?

  •  Last cigarette: I smoked for several years when I was in the army after I graduated from high school. It’s been over 20 years since I smoked my last cigarette.
  • Last car payment: My husband, Mr. Wonderful, has been infatuated with purchasing new automobiles since we bought our first Mazda Protégé shortly after our youngest son was born. In fact, last year at this time, we made our last payment on the 2007 Acura RDX he bought be – new – in September 2007. It felt good – for about a month; then he bought himself a new Mustang. Go figure.
  • Last college registration: Yesterday, I completed the last registration I will ever need for my undergraduate degree. Yes, it’s official, I have only four classes left to complete and I’m signed up for all of them. Even though I had to juggle the pre-planned schedule slightly, I felt 25 pounds lighter when the registration was accepted. Too bad I wasn’t any pounds lighter at all.
  • Last FAFSA: Sadly, I will have to complete this tool of torture two more times. After that, my youngest son will be on his own if he wants to keep attending college.

Do you agree that there are some “lasts” in life that should be celebrated? Or maybe there’s a special “first” I didn’t include on my short list above? I’d love to hear from you.