I haven’t posted in a long time - not because I have nothing to say, but because I struggle to have enough lucid time going spare to get my thoughts together. But I have to share what’s been happening in my life.
I have long been secretly embarrassed by my lack of post secondary education. Partly because I somehow graduated valedictorian in 1985 and felt there was an expectation that I should have done something with that, but also because I’m a learning junkie. I love learning new things. I have taken little classes in a myriad of odd subjects over the years to satisfy my habit, but that’s all it has ever been - a stop gap measure until I do it for real. I told myself all kinds of nice things to rationalize my hesitation:
- I was busy being a mom.
- I didn’t want to waste money on something I wouldn’t actually use (hahahaha - yes, this is the same person who is currently paying for a class in botanical illustration because she was bored and wanted a creative outlet).
- The timing wasn’t right.
- I didn’t really know what I wanted to study (okay, that’s one is still a bit of a problem - no one studies law for fun as far as I can tell because it’s horribly expensive as hobbies go).
- I didn’t want to turn into a feminist who got a little education and started on the man-hating. Seriously. That was one of the reasons.
A few years ago I started a new job. I left the scintillating world of construction and project facilitating (status-ese for filling out applications for 101 assorted permits) for a role in academic support work. I started helping university and college students with a range of disabilities with their classes. Sometimes it was note-taking, and other times it was full on classroom assistance. But it was school. And I loved it. I loved being in classrooms. I loved taking notes. I loved learning all of it - engineering software, statistics, chemistry, nursing and mental health, community development, education strategies, LAW, marketing, music. I forgot how much I had enjoyed school growing up. And I felt badly that I had stayed away so long.
But I am living in a foreign country. Foreigners pay extra for school - a lot extra. And this is a temporary situation. And if I went back to school, what could I do that would still mean something when we went back to Canada? So I delayed a little longer. But I knew I would have to go back to school eventually no matter what. I had opened the door and it wasn’t shutting anymore. So I began researching all kinds of things - online programs, online degrees, distance education, part-time studies, short certificate programs loosely related to what I thought I might like to do that wouldn’t take a long time. But none of it felt right.
About a year and half ago I started hearing about Pathway. It was an offshoot of BYU Online that was supposed to help people who hadn’t finished secondary education or wanted to upgrade their standing to look at getting into BYU. It didn’t really seem to be suited to me. I didn’t need to upgrade, and going to BYU wasn’t really in the cards. But it wouldn’t go away. So I put it in a box and filed it away in my brain to pull out someday later in case it had relevance. And I kept looking at other options. I even got on a first name basis with the recruiting people of an online university here in Australia. They would call me every few months to see if I was ready to start studies yet, and we’d have a chat and I would dodge the issue again.
Last year I nearly ended up becoming a Pathway missionary with my husband. I found myself kind of excited to maybe see what the program was about, but I still hadn’t fully understood what it was going to entail. So I returned to teaching seminary, working as a non-student (you cannot believe how hard it is not to participate in a class when you’re not allowed to), and dreaming of the day I would be able to start my journey.
This year I got the nudge again. When the spirit repeats a whisper three times, you know you’re in trouble. I still have no idea how this is going to be applicable to me. And I’m embarrassed to admit I thought it would be no big deal for me. I foolishly thought, “I’m a smart person. I should have no trouble at all with this.” Nope. I registered and optimistically jumped in and I am flabbergasted. Yes. That word.
Pathway consists of 3 x 14 week terms of study. There’s the online course portion as well as a weekly meeting at the chapel with Pathway missionaries who teach an institute class and offer support for the gathering meeting that follows. The students lead the gathering meeting and share what they have been learning in their online tutorial as well as practicing the material by teaching it to each other. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? The guideline of 12-15 hours of work outside of actual class time a week is dead on the money. I am 100% engaged for that amount of time with the class. And I love it. This first term is about learning/teaching and study skills and in three weeks I feel like I’m becoming a new person. I currently teach at least three times a week with seminary and church responsibilities. I have been a teacher at church in various guises all my teen and adult life so far. I literally know nothing it seems. My mind is officially blown by the experiences and techniques I’m being exposed to. It feels like I have a new pair of eyes in many ways.
So now I’m getting really excited. I have no clue what will happen next. The list of online courses I can transition into from Pathway Connect still isn’t quite what I’m looking for, but I know I am in exactly the right place right now to start my journey. I suspect that by the time I finish the Pathway Connect program next year, I will have a much better idea of where I’m heading as well as who I am. If I can do it, so can you.