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There’s no excuse. Light the fire.

July 7, 2013


When a friend told me of songwriting courses he was taking online through the well-respected Berklee School of Music, I was impressed. And a little envious! I’d always wanted to, but… wait. They’re free?

Universities worldwide are offering classes, with actual professors, as far reaching as the schools themselves – at no cost via http://www.coursera.org? Was I the only person unfamiliar with this phenomenon?

So, like a puppy prowling a pantry, I licked my chops, scanned the course list and snatched up enrollments in several different subjects – narrowing it to five – an amount I could comfortably digest.

Fairly certain before that a plant-based diet was the best way to reach 100 (a life goal), I’m sure of it now. I savor my fruits and veggies even more after completing Nutrition and Lifestyle from Vanderbilt University.

My younger son loved the new vegetarian dishes, but the law-school-bound lad couldn’t help but rib me about “squandering my time.” “No grades? What’s the point?” Instead of arguing, I shook my head and rolled my eyes, happy with my newfound knowledge, and the 92% I’d earned. (But, who’s keeping track?)

Last week, newsprint, drawing paper and glue covered my office as I created a portrait collage for Intro to Art. I’m not confident drawing and painting like my daughter, husband and older Parsons-alumnus son. But I was pleasantly surprised with my creation. So was its subject. My very nurturing nine-year-old agreed the piece was suitable for framing.

The b & w portrait on which I based my collage.

The black & white portrait.

The resulting newsprint collage.

The resulting collage.

Currently, I’m one of 48,000 enrolled in The Camera Never Lies from the University of London. As a photographer and a former reporter, I savor access to lost and forgotten news shots. It’s amazing how our histories have been shaped by images.

Similarly life altering is how I’d best describe my experience with Coursera. But isn’t that what’s to be expected from higher learning? And the desire, and necessity, doesn’t end after you get a degree, or even a fancy title. At least I’ve discovered it doesn’t for me.

So, what’s next? The Modern and Postmodern; Modern and Contemporary American Poetry; Fantasy and Science Fiction…

Education is not filling a pail, but the lighting of a fire. ~William Butler Yeats

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