I submitted my first assignment, and wrote my midterm, for Medical Terminology. To no one’s surprise, except to me, I did well. I go through this process with every course, and can safely narrow it down to five processes. However, I want to skip over number one. (You’ll see why.)
1. Panic and Stress Out at the Beginning
At the start of a new course, my mind usually goes on red alert. At the beginning of Library Technician training, I remember observing myself at a distance as I bounced off the walls. I spoke at miles a minute, noticing it’s not excitement, but heart-pounding fear. Using one of the characters from Inside/Out, this character takes the controls in my command centre:
I got better at taming the fear. Anxiety over anything new, even something positive, serves a healthy function. We tootle along in life, and now a change happens. Sadly, people live their whole lives not to feel this emotion at all.
2. The Learning Curve, or Dealing with Procrastination
Hi, my name is Fatima, and I am a recovering procrastinator. While I like learning, I also like watching Agents of SHIELD, checking Facebook, drinking wine, or some other activity not involved with the course.
I dug many metaphorical holes in my life with this approach or backed into a corner requiring late hours to save the day, er, grade. This time, acknowledging procrastination to discover something wonderful happening like coming home from a test, and finding a new episode of Agents of Shield on my PVR.
The PVR picked it up while I poured over my book for a test review.
3. Finding Out Cool Things
During Web Development, I learned about selectors, and how it works in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). In Medical Terminology, I learned about Hypochondriac Regions. (I know. I had to read the words twice too.) No, it’s not the body parts people usually point to as they say ‘I have this pain over here.’ Hypochondriac regions serve to divide up the body, a way to know the location of various parts:
Hmm…may be an Armitage shirtless scene from Strike Back would have helped my memory.
Medical Terminology involves learning a new language, and it reminded me what students go through to learn English. Medical language draws from some influences especially Latin and Greek. If the term comes from Latin, Portuguese shares its root, and it gets a touch easier. Other times prove why we say ‘it’s all Greek to me’ to say ‘Oh, Lord, what is this saying!?)
Either way make room in the cerebral hard drive for it.
4. The Grade Does Not Mean Intelligence (Social or Otherwise)
I met my share of straight-A people. They work hard, grasp concepts easier, all in the pursuit of master a skill. When the classroom work finishes these same people find themselves lost. They wonder why the person with the 3.0 GPA, or even a 2.5 GPA, got a job ahead of them.
Why? People can have a high GPAs, be well-read, and yet:
It’s one thing, not the main thing, so make sure to cultivate other qualities outside a classroom.
5. Take Something Even If It Leads to Nothing
So far I have taken Web Development, Supervisory Skills for Women, and now Medical Terminology. I also took an Introduction to Creative Writing and Acting Foundations at Prairie Theatre Exchange.
What’s it all leading to?
I don’t know.
If a workplace has a programming fund for staff, find out the criteria and take something interesting. If you can scrape together the money, take something interesting. I did both. The question asked at the end of my Library interviews always involved professional development opportunities. I never felt comfortable being comfortable.
Can’t take a class? Go to a library. Just learn something.
5a. Find the happy balance between the bookish and the down and Dirty
Lately people talk about the ‘intellectual elite’, especially in Canada. “What do these guys know,” they say, “all that book learning and they never worked a day in their life.” Curiosity may have skinned the cat, but an incurious cat slowly suffocates.
The moment things go into ‘us’ and ‘them’ an equality of the stupid emerges. I always liked the Forrest Gump line ‘Stupid is as Stupid Does’ stripping things down to action. I have a job to do, and a life to live. A time to read, and a time to observe. A time for the classroom, and a time for the workplace. It all starts from the same phrase:
I don’t know.
Make sure to go and find out.
2 thoughts on “Fatima’s Five Thoughts During Any New Course”
Well, some people with great GPAs also have fantastic social skills. I don’t think it’s either / or; if you’re a jerk, you’re a jerk no matter your grades — unless you’re doing something so rarefied that only a few people can do it, in which case your lack of the skills won’t hurt you.
I’m a college professor, and I appreciate your post. Learning something new feels almost physically painful at first, but it can lead to such a sense of freedom and accomplishment.