Saturday, April 16, 2011

I'm Going Back to School!

Sort of.

I was Stumbling around the net the other day, and came across this post. I read it. Then thought about it. And realized that while I couldn't afford to do everything on the list, I could certainly afford to to anything with a $0 price tag attached, and that it would be a pretty good substitute for playing Sims. Well, some of the time, anyhow.

Now I already have two master's degrees. I don't really need any more. But that doesn't mean my education's over by a long shot. There's a lot I haven't seen, heard, done, or read. A lot of things that I'd like to do before I finally kick the bucket.

You'll find online or in bookstores literally hundreds of books that tell you what you should do or see or learn before you die (or reach the age of thirty, whichever comes first.) If you took them at their word, you'd be spending every single minute of your time watching movies or travelling to far-flung places or reading books, and you'd starve to death before two months passed, because you wouldn't have time to eat.

This list is a little different. For one thing, there's a specific time period involved. One year (though in my case, it'll take longer due to the financial aspects.)

There's a limit to what needs to be done or learned. 20 fiction books, 30 non-fiction books, 3 new skills, 1 language.

And the skills and the books and the language aren't dictated by the author of the post. You can choose what suits you best, which means that everyone's "freeform master's degree" is going to be different.

In my case, I can forsee the non-fiction reading being along the lines of religion and society, religion and science, and a few economic and business texts thrown in. The fiction I've already decided will be classics I haven't read before.

I'm hoping that I can somehow upgrade this jackboot master's programme into a doctorate, which means I'd have to have a theme of sorts, and a topic for a thesis that would develop into a book. Most likely is something to do with the place of religion in society. I wouldn't get the piece of paper, but that isn't the point. The point is, in my case, to produce some original writing on the topic that may somehow be worthy of publication, and might make some contribution to the debate on the place of religion in modern society.

Looking down the list, there are a couple of things that I've already got well covered. Basic presentation and public speaking skills, for one. Been doing presentations of many sorts, and doing them well, for decades now. I don't think toastmasters is going to be able to teach me what I don't already know. Writing well is another skill that I've already acquired. Though I may well read the suggested text, Bird by Bird, as it's available in my public library.

On to what I can start to do, right here, right now.

Blogging is the most obvious choice. I have three blogs right now. One, "Death by Trumpet", I haven't used in years. It was devoted to a particular novel I wrote for November National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) in 2009. I didn't finish posting the book, and I haven't used the blog since.

There's "Confessions of a Slob" which details my somewhat haphazard approach to cleaning and re-organizing my house.

Then there is this blog, which was originally intended to collect my pearls of wisdom on self-improvement, actually became an outlet for publishing some of my sermons (I did tell you I had some public speaking experience, didn't I?), and is now being re-purposed to become the vehicle for this experiment in self-education.

It actually won't change all that much except for one thing: I hereby commit to posting at least twice per week--once on Wednesday, and once on Saturday. And the scope will be somewhat widened--I may publish sermons, or musings on what I've read, or my answers to strange and wonderful philosophical quesions from this blog, or...

So the blog will still be, I hope about building an awesome life. It just won't all be sermons. (Don't y'all deafen me with your cheers, now!)


Charlotte Jane Ivory said...

Thanks for the link to the "Skip Graduate School" article. I am actually going to start a Masters in July, so I don't think I'll have time to do all this as well, but it's an absolutely brilliant idea - and some of the tasks can be easily worked into everyday life (like the magazine subscriptions and increasing your geography knowledge). I'm going to link to it in my blog tomorrow!

Ruth Cooke said...

Good luck with your master's, Charlotte. And yeah, some of the suggestions are things we should be doing all the time, anyhow.