It’s Not You, Honest!

035Dear Professor Scott,

I’m breaking up with you.

It’s not you. It’s me.

I enjoyed your video lectures, particularly the way you add cool special effects to your monologues. Social Psychology is fascinating and you’re an interesting teacher–really. (It’s not you, honest!) The required reading was good, too. Clearly you put a great deal of thought into choosing an appropriate text. Even the assignments were well designed. The one I completed was difficult enough to challenge me without frustrating me because it was too hard.

Sadly I have to break up with you because of me. I can’t devote over two hours a week to watching the video lectures. Add the thirty-five pages of required reading as well as the weekly assignment and exam and I was swimming in Social Psychology without a life jacket.

Maybe we can resume our association when I have more time and fewer responsibilities. Right now I’m singlehandedly responsible for the wellbeing of one busy boy and an emotionally needy Chihuahua. I’m taking care of a house and garden while working fulltime and doing my best not to burn out before my sailor returns to lend a hand or two. Instead of being something fun, Social Psychology was turning into the straw that threatened to break this camel’s back.

Perhaps this isn’t exactly social psychology (is there such a thing as personal psychology?–maybe I should have stuck with you, Professor Scott), but I’ve learned something about myself from this experience. When I have down time, I just want to relax with some fluff reading and some good chocolate and/or wine. Exams, assignments and required reading seem too much like work.

I’ve always been proud of my education. I earned three degrees without ever failing or dropping a course. However, I never worked during term time and I had no responsibilities other than succeeding at school. As an adult with a job and a family attempting to take an online course for interest, I realize how fortunate I was to have had the opportunities my parents provided for me as a young woman. I am in awe of any adult who returns to school in order to make a better life for his or her family.

Professor Scott, please don’t take this rejection personally. It’s not you. It’s me. Really.


The Dog Did my Homework

003IMG_0501Which piece of environmental art is mine and which is the dog’s? I’m not telling.

I loved being a student. I would have stayed in school forever if I could have. As it was, I dragged my university years out as long as possible.

So while I’m at home feeling lonely and abandoned, what could be better than taking courses to keep myself busy? Free classes! Yep, that’s right. As well as providing me the opportunity to purchase expensive purses I don’t need, the internet is a vehicle for free non-credit university courses in anything you could imagine (and many things you couldn’t).

Coursera is just giving knowledge away. I worry there must be a catch, but so far I haven’t found it.

I’m taking Introduction to Fine Arts. In addition to weekly readings, video lectures and quizzes (which are surprisingly challenging–this is a unversity-level course, after all), participants have the option to create art in order to complete the course “with distinction.”

I like the idea of doing things with distinction, so I am producing art. I’ve made fantastic art, mail art and personal collection art, but my most ambitious project is the environmental art installation I created. I designed it on paper before constructing it and spent hours (well, about half an hour) writing my artist’s statement to describe both my vision and the story my installation conveys. I submitted photos to Coursera–close-up to highlight details and panoramic so viewers can appreciate how the work suits its location. I look forward to my peer evaluation reports because, hey, I love praise as much as the next person.

Yesterday my dog created her own piece of environmental art. She chose to use materials remarkably similar to the ones I selected. Although she isn’t sharing her artist’s statement, I can see her natural joie de vivre and exuberance reflected in this installation. It reminds the viewer to see beauty and opportunity everywhere. It’s joyful and optimistic with a puppy-like playfulness that engages the observer.

In short, it’s better than mine! Even worse, it’s too late for me to submit Penny’s work as my own. (No, the dog didn’t eat my homework, the dog DID my homework!)

I hope my Courserian peer reviewers are kind when they evaluate my work.