|Indiana State University|
(my FIRST alma mater)
|Unknown nice librarian lady, Minnesota, 1974. |
(Thank you, Wikimedia.)
I must say, the classes I enjoyed most were the ones in which I was allowed to choose my own reading materials. Granted, these were not that common, but especially in graduate school, university departments begin to trust their students more to work independently, and they also realize that they can't tailor a class for the varied interests of every single student on campus. Thus, the independent reading course was born. For anyone who's never experienced it, this is exactly what it sounds like--you work out a reading list with the professor, you go away and read it all, you meet with the professor once a week to make sure that you're on track, and at the end of the semester, you present yourself to take an exam that the professor concocted based on the master list. In some cases, you write an extensive paper as the final project, which is even better, since YOU get to control what's on the "exam" if it's entirely a treatise of your own making. I did a couple of these independent courses, and actually quite enjoyed it. There are days when I miss academia.
Which is why I've begun to suspect that for me, blogging has taken the place of independent studies. Having set myself the goal of trying to post something every day, I know that I have a specific task, I know when the deadline is, and I seem never to have a shortage of things to write about. I've even found ways to add the assigned reading component back onto my daily life; I've joined not one, but THREE review programs that give ME free books and give the PUBLISHERS in question an honest review of the book. It's a little like writing book reports again--you remember, I'm sure: "My Book Report, by Jenny Campbell," written in pencil on that 2nd-grade paper with the blue lines on it, and the 'y' always a little crooked, much to my chagrin. Still, it's a way to keep taking independent reading courses, since I get to pick which of the publishers' new books I want to review, and I get the textbooks FREE! Nobody ever gave me THAT deal in college, I can promise you. Here's an example: I find American military history interesting. Not interesting enough that I would ever take a whole semester-long course of that and nothing else, but still interesting. So, when a publisher offers me a free, hardback biography of an American general I'd never heard of before, but who was instrumental to our victory in one of our big wars (I don't remember which one; I haven't actually started the book yet), I'm going to happily take them up on it. Like I said, this gives me the same opportunity to keep learning and the sense of accomplishment that attending college did, without me having to go into $20K a year of student loan debt for it. Book reviewing, here I come!