For a year I’ve chosen to see how far I can get by studying independently for one year, where I will complete the same hours of taught lectures (approximately 288 hours) as one of the taught master’s degree courses I was thinking about doing. This doesn’t include assignments and my dissertation.
I have a course structure, a schedule of lectures, events, seminars and workshops, assignments and a pretty extensive reading list. I plan to document the process of how I learn and create the course, as well as documenting and reflecting on what I learn. In many ways, the process of my learning experience and creating my course will be just as important as what I study.
Since starting this project on November 1st 2017 I wanted to share some of my initial thoughts.
There are so many free lectures available
At the start of November, I started to seek out interesting lectures, events and workshops that I could attend that related to my area of study — transformational/ spiritual experiences.
Considering that what I’m studying is pretty niche and doesn’t necessarily sit within a particular department, I was amazed to find so many free lectures taught by experts and professors renowned in their field of work. Sure, I have the advantage of living in London, but I really didn’t expect to find so much. I haven’t yet finished my lecture/ event list, but so far I have over 50 hours of lectures and events that I’ve paid just under £50 for. Bargain!
It occurred to me that you could take any subject regardless of how niche it is, and find top quality live and online lectures and events related to that subject, which is pretty exciting. Twenty years ago, this way of learning just wouldn’t have been possible.
Validation and the point of learning
Since starting this project I’ve been chatting to people about it and have had really positive feedback. However, at the end of this year, I will get no formal certificate, formal acknowledgement, or letters after my name. In many ways, I will also be the own judge of my success because there will be no grades and no one to tell me my essays need work, unless I seek people out for their opinions.
Other questions I’ve been having include:
- What will keep me motivated?
- Will I have enough self discipline?
- What’s the point of studying if I’m not going to get a formal certificate at the end or any formal recognition?
- Why study something in the first place?
Choosing to study in this way has made me reflect more closely on my reasons for studying and investing my time in this project. It’s also made me think more closely about how I learn and our education system as a whole.
Synchronicities, intuition and observation
Since starting my year of independent study project, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of synchronicities I’ve been getting, which I’ve been documenting in a synchronicity journal. I’ll be interested to see if they continue, and if they do, what their significance might be in helping to shape and inform my learning experience.
When there’s freedom to shape what and how you learn, for example, and when intuition and spontaneity are allowed to play their part, what will be the result and is this even important?
Working with others
Because it’s just me doing this course, it will be more important to seek out collaborations with other people, as well as making contact with authors and other relevant people, which I have done already. I feel quite humbled that some of these authors took their time to respond with insightful answers, which have already helped to shape my learning.
I’m very aware that one of the downfalls of learning independently in this way might be that there are no other students doing exactly the same thing as me. However, there will be other people at the live lectures I attend, and I’ve already roped some friends and my boyfriend into coming along to some of my lectures, so I won’t be doing all of this in a vacuum. I’m also very much open to collaborations as a result of doing this project, some of which I already have planned, but it would also be nice to meet new people along the way too.
These are just some of my initial thoughts. Right now, I’m incredibly excited by this project and am looking forward to attending my first live lecture this evening by Dr Steve Taylor who will be discussing the themes in his most recent book (which I found incredibly useful personally and definitely recommend) The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual awakening.
The fact that I get to attend this lecture in the first place came about as a synchronicity, which I feel is a great way to start. Let the synchronicities and the learning continue.