#oneaday Day 917: Select an Ability to Learn

I like learning stuff. It’s a fun process to start from “nothing” and gradually equip yourself with Knowledge. I’ve done it a number of times over the years, though I will admit that I’ve not taken any of these things really far enough to, say, get a qualification. But I do have a working knowledge of HTML, CSS and several specific software applications that I didn’t know before, all thanks to my ability to self-study.

The trouble with self-study, though, is that it requires time — time that you don’t always have — or time that you might not have the inclination to spend “working” when there are nicer things you could be doing.

It’s when I think about this sort of thing that I wonder what it would be like to go back to university. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people I know who look back very fondly on their university days, but that — assuming they went at 18-19 — the actual “studying” part of things isn’t the main reason for the rose-tinted spectacles. I know it’s certainly not true in my case — while it was a lot of fun to, say, get up on stage in a nice concert hall and perform music, or sit in a small room and argue semantics with a group of fellow English students, the things I remember most fondly are the extracurricular and social activities I did. Theatre Group and their various productions. Trips to the Edinburgh Fringe. Drinking in Chamberlain Bar. That time my friend Plummer came down and we got wasted on the Union’s £1 triple vodka and oranges then consumed roughly a pound of cheese between us at about three in the morning. That time a shopping trolley showed up in our flat so we mounted a huge clandestine operation to get rid of it without being identified.

Now I’m a little older, I can’t help but think that going back and, you know, doing it “properly” might be fun. That said, the possibility of shenanigans is also appealing. Andie and I were discussing this the other day — university is one of the only times in your life when you have pretty much all of your friends together in one place, making it an absolute snap to arrange impromptu social events. Nowadays, I don’t see my friends anywhere near as often as I like, and it’s sad. But I digress.

Yes. Doing it “properly” might actually be fun. Picking a topic, studying it, doing assignments, getting graded, improving. Learning something. Coming away from the experience with both practical experience of applying subject knowledge and an actual qualification to prove you’ve done it. Sounds pretty good to me. If I had the opportunity, I’d study something practical that I know very little about — probably something computer-related, since I’ve always been IT literate and willing to tinker about, but my actual specific technical knowledge of things like, say, programming is rather limited.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty unlikely to happen any time soon. Going to university is very expensive, and I don’t see myself surviving on the relative pittance that is the student loan any more.

That said, I do have a work-from-home job with flexible hours and good pay.



No. No, I can’t do that. Not just to satisfy some sort of whim or early-30s crisis or whatever it is that’s going through my mind right now.

What I can do, though, is take some steps to learn something new on my own time. Self-study. Perhaps signing up for some sort of evening class. I’d like to do it, certainly, it’s just a case of finding — or perhaps making — the time.

Now, what to learn…?

Published by

Pete Davison

Southampton-based music teacher, writer and enthusiast of Japanese popular culture.

2 thoughts on “#oneaday Day 917: Select an Ability to Learn”

  1. Hi Mate,
    I went back to Uni at the age of 44, launched into full-time, got high grades but stress, dropped back to part-time and settled back and enjoyed myself – achieved High Distinctions from then on because the stress dropped away. The thing is that you go there because you want to learn, not just as a trial run to see what you might like to do with your life. The mature age students are great – being one is great – the attitude is so different from the kids straight out of high school. All they want to do is have a good time, focus on Tavern Studies 101 and disrupt classes. The drop out rate of the young is very high, but once you go back as a mature age student you’re there because you want to be, and can enjoy the interaction in the tutorials, plus soak up the knowledge in the lectures.
    I only had an English Studies Major plus random electives – Astonomy, French, Creative Writing etc – quite diverse. I went on and did my Honours with a Tolkien thesis, then cruised on into Masters in Writing where I wrote a Contemporary Fantasy novel plus ‘stupid essay’ about why and how I wrote it. The Masters was the lonely part as that was done from home, and I found I missed the lecturer n student interaction.
    As for getting into Uni – you already have a teaching degree – this should entitle you to instant entry into whichever Uni you wish. And if you go in to do a Masters or PhD you should be able to do that gratis – though I am not sure how that works in England or if it is only if you attend the same Uni where you did your BA.
    I say “Go for it, Pete”. You will really enjoy the experience this time – especially if you do it part-time. At the very least check it out and see if it is indeed a possibility. Good luck. Jud

  2. I’d like to learn to draw, or to take and fiddle with excellent photographs. I’d also like to study maths a bit more and I’d really like to be able to play a musical instrument.

    Unfortunately, I’m far too lazy to do any of the above.

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