Sunday, January 15, 2006

Polishing my school shoes

Last year I decided to enrol in some distance ed subjects this year, and I've tentatively decided what they'll be. Here's a clue to the first (from The Simpsons**):
Scott [TV anchor]: And now over to Kent Brockman for some grim economic news.
Kent [reporter]: Scott, things aren't as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office. Joblessness is no longer just for philosophy majors. Useful people are starting to feel the pinch.
It's not something useful.

I saw this unit description and thought instantly, That's the one: Mind, Meaning and Metaphysics (Macquarie Uni through Open Universities Australia#):
This unit introduces the big philosophical questions about human nature, mind and body, and the meaning of life. The unit begins with the philosophers of Ancient Greece. It then turns to conceptions of the mind and of personal identity that first emerged at the dawn of the modern period but which are still very much with us. The third section of the unit provides an introduction to some key thinkers of the twentieth century, including Freud, Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir.
But I have qualms, and they're getting qualmish. The only philosophy I've ever read is general easy-reading stuff. Maybe (probably) I'm just being idealistic and overly optimistic. It's not going to be Dishy De Botton wandering around being consoling, is it? It'll be dense dark text so thick I'll swear I'm back in sociology again...

I hated social theory. I hated the jargon and the page-long sentences and the stupid wankerism prancing through every second journal article. (Or did I just not understand it?)

But I like ideas. I want my brain to get out of its slothfest. I want to learn how to think properly. I like the idea of sitting around a campfire and talking to that man in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. And reading the unit description felt thrilling. So. I'll do a bit more trudging through lists to convince myself there isn't something better available, but in the end I'll probably go with this.

And the second subject will be maths. No, really. Bridging Mathematics, through TAFE’s Open Training and Education Network:
The program aims to:
- review previously learnt maths
- build confidence
- be a stepping stone to further maths study such as HSC maths or a relevant TAFE program.
It's basic. Good.

I'm tired of being hopeless with numbers. Maths is the language of science and the universe and I don't want to keep missing out on the basics of The Big Stuff. Mind you, I'm probably being hopelessly idealistic about this choice too. The simplest calculations send my brain into meltdown. Maybe alarm bells should be ringing, but at the moment it just sounds like they're playing a happy tune.

Why am I telling you all this when I haven't even enrolled yet? Because it feels like I'm on the way now, and recording the details here helps to chock the wheels so I don't roll backwards again.

I'm using you, reader. Dreadful, isn't it?


**$pringfield (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling), written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein.
#Link is to the Macquarie Uni page for their internal students; I can't get the OUA to link properly.