Out on a Limb: What I learned from living through a pandemic

Awesome, I thought, when the pandemic hit, I’ll learn some new skills.

The pandemic continues to roll on and all those courses I signed up for at the beginning remain incomplete.

When the work at home order hit (and was rescinded) and the social distancing recommendation became our new normal, all these courses became available, some of them free. Awesome, I thought, I’ll learn some new skills.

Well, I started them. I haven’t finished any but when you don’t have to earn a certificate or complete course material in order to earn a grade (or justify your registration fee), there’s no real motivation to actually complete the course.

You see, learning is a form of entertainment or recreation, in and of itself. I learned that long ago, of course, much of my undergraduate degree was shaped by what interested me and less by what was required (although, of course, that ultimately wins out in the end).

So, consequently, I took a Russian course to fill out the area of study that languages satisfied. Loved it. Barely know how to speak it but I enjoyed it.

This approach to learning almost derailed my Communications and Political Science degree when I took an archaeology class. Man was I hooked. If I wasn’t already in third year when I began taking some archaeology, I would have changed my major in a second. Then maybe I would have been an over-educated underpaid archaeologist now instead of an underpaid, over-educated journalist.

But such is life and I just wanted to get my degree completed.

As it was, I’ve always been willing to pick up education whenever I could.

The pandemic spurred that on even more.

I’ve signed up for a Masterclass all-access and so that allows me to sample any of their courses. So I jump around from writing (of course) to Mexican cooking and even a magic course (from the legendary Penn and Teller, no less). It’s great fun, I don’t care if I finish because I’m enjoying learning for the pure joy of learning.

As my career is closer to the end that it is to the beginning (or even the middle) I like to pick up knowledge for knowledge’s sake (plus I can dabble in an admiration for the art of teaching – a good teacher is as much a maestro as anybody).

How long the pandemic will continue is anybody’s guess at this point but my education will continue indefinitely.

Alistair Taylor is the editor of the Campbell River Mirror.

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