Monday, August 10, 2009

"Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest...The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care?"
—Charlotte Mason a British educator who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her method, the Charlotte Mason method, is centered around the idea that education is three-pronged: Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.

When I was a student at Canevin High School 1970- 1974, instead of study hall, I registered into art classes five days a week. The studios were not endowed with the plethora of expensive equipment available to students in current school programs. Art History class was not available to us as it was to my daughter in high school 1998-2002.

Art History with Professor Kowsky was shear delight. This was a professor who featured his own slides of places/ works we studied in Janson History of Art. Held captive by his every word, I took copious notes of his personal adventures and read every chapter in the book.

Professor posted his office hours in the syllabus. The week of the first test I made my way down a dark hall to find the professor stunned by my presence. He said he had been teaching for years and I was the only student to look him up during office hours. I explained that I was back in college for the first time in over 20 years for personal enrichment. Professor went over the questions with me. The first test I answered 100% of the questions correctly. I finished the semester earning the 100% on all three test plus 8 questions for extra credit.

Because I want to see a return on my expenditure of money I am not a fan of gambling. If I put money on the table, I want to win. Going back to college was a win/win. The rush I felt after working through each semester was addicting. Pay the money, work as hard as I can and reap the reward. I was hooked.

Working with metals in Jewelry class was challenging after thirty plus years of sewing with fabrics. Metals needed to be annealed to bend, pilot holes needed to be drilled for a place to begin sawing a cut design. Interesting textures could be embossed into the metal when rolled through a press. Slowly I began to purchase a small drill, jewelers saw, polishing tools, files, torch... While working in the Jewelry studio the professor mentioned that there was a new professor teaching in the Fiber program.

What is a Fiber program? As is my practice I research the class and professor before I spend my money to register. Lucky for me he taught a foundation class so I could fill a requirement and decide if I wanted to take a Fiber class with this professor. First day of the foundation class was scary. The professor showed a series of work we would cover during the semester. I could not understand his English through the accent, plus he was a low talker.

I have the best son and daughter in the world. We were all in college at the same time, we encouraged each other, sometimes competition even pushed us to work harder. We subscribed to the Jerry Garcia " The first days are the hardest days, don't you worry anymore..." Uncle John's Band school of phiosphy. Kara sent me back the next class with orders to sit up front so I could hear. Don't worry if I was not confident to do the project, it was the professor job to teach us what to do. Kara reminded me that I was not responsible to be a competent as the professor.

Returning to school when you are 20 plus years older than the other students is a challenge. They after all have more recent practice being a student. I was a wife, mom, caretaker for dying parents, bought and sold homes, served as a scout leader, president of a women's club, as well as taught religious education for 17 years all without knowing how to use a computer or cut a mat board. I soon learned to laugh at myself when I made mistakes and ask for help if I did not understand the directions. I encouraged the other students in the room to work with the professor when they got frustrated. By the end of the semester we had completed 13 projects in 15 weeks. Everyone in the room's work showed improvement. Most of all my workaholism clicked with the professor. The last day of class as I was walking out of the room, he thanked me for a good semester and shook my hand. He could see that my attitude in the room made the students work with him together as a group. Incidentally, I never ask to see what my grade is until the end of the semester

I signed up for my first Fiber class the next fall.

to be continued...

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