Friday, May 18, 2007

A Learning Process

Let me just apologize for falling into somewhat of a blogger coma for the past few weeks. I'll explain why:

There are just some things people can't do.

For me, it was memorizing different policies for provincial and state park reservations. Memorizing where 76 of them were on the map was no problem but knowing which ones had alcohol bans and which ones required fly in permits, Remote Area Border Crossing permits, which sites had a three-day change window, those that were reservable all year and those that charged a 10-50% no show fee for the nights reserved -that was tough.

Getting up at six in the morning to go to training all day turned me into a scatter-brain. It seemed like I was starting to lose everything else -my keys, my sense of direction, my brain itself!! I was concurrently trying to learn the ropes of this job while working and just getting used to my other job at the other call centre continue to work. I got frustrated fumbling for mnemonic techniques, jingles and rhymes to help me learn the new information about one campground while forgetting about the last one I had just been tested on. And it was belittling to feel "dumb".

The whole thing opened up an old wound from when I had trouble starting out in elementary school. I was a "slow learner". I remember my parents taking me to get my hearing checked because my marks were suffering. They were suspicious that perhaps I just couldn't hear the teacher's instructions, not that I didn't know how to follow them. It turned out that my hearing was quite acute and I could almost pick up the frequencies of a bat screech. But I was a rascal. The other thing I remembered about school was that I always had to work really hard and study for longer than other people, asking questions throughout class just to "get it". In university as well, I struggled to write sentences which were grammatically, actually sentences but then in my final years I excelled at the top my class. In the arts, concepts and critical thinking came naturally to me but try to explain something like derivation in Calculus? Forget it.

Being out of school for a whole year has made my automatic recall suffer. I looked around me with envy as coworkers (all current university students) played silly games in order to grasp the information with ease. I hated having PowerPoint presentations drilled into my head because they just. Wouldn't. Click. We had to write 2-3 tests a day and get 80 percent or else our score would be considered a "fail". Yesterday I was ready to quit, not happy that the stress had started to manifest itself into a nasty neck crick and a return attack of the hives. But my boss and I were apparently in sync because she called me in for a little "chat" on my performance and it wasn't like I was surprised. I had already "failed" two tests.

So my job as a call agent for provincial and state campsites has come to a close. My May-long weekend just got longer. While I will miss the people I trained with and those I worked for, relief washed over me like a thermos of Gatorade at a football game as soon as I walked out of those doors. It was like being able to push a large desk off the edge of a high precipice, watching as all the stacks of paper fly away. My employer gave me encouraging wishes of finding another good job, we shook hands and I parted.

What I learned throughout this process:

1)I'm not such a memorizing-trivial-information kind of guy.

2)When I go back to school again I'll definitly need to have a regular study routine involving solitude in order to succeed.

3)Memory techniques are a good thing to learn; it's good to know how to learn how to learn. I was starting to get back in the habit of making acronyms and associating answers with the experience of learning them but this needs more work.

4)It is possible not to be good at something but still have a good experience and grow from it. Know your limits.

5)I needed to acknowledge that this job was not for me in order to motivate me to find something else.

6)That the quote "There can be no transformation of darkness to light, of apathy into movement without emotion" (Carl Jung) has a lot of resonance for me. Life can beat you up and turn you inside out but it's good for you. I'm proud of myself for trying. I suppose it's just another way of saying "no pain, no gain".

8)There is a reason everything happens. I see myself getting more interested and involved in photography, drawing, writing, composing etc despite not finding the job that relates to my education. I feel things are going in a progressive direction. I really need to put my extra time now towards regular mental and physical exercise and accomplishment, my goals being: completing a professional recording of my original music which my friends pledged to help with, more biking, hiking and squash.

9)You have to find a way of having fun no matter what you're doing because you can't learn without it and let's face it: most of us are stuck doing something other than our dream job. If you get bored, frustrated or apathetic you'll just drag yourself down. So learn to adapt, amuse, make games and lighten things up when the air gets thick. There's a reason we tend to like the things we're good at: we're good at them because we find them fun.

10)Surround yourself with people who help you. People who chattered or simply whined about having to learn demotivated me and brought me down. I brought myself down for putting myself in their presence. I found that if I was with others that had good learning techniques, my scores started to go up as well.

Personal Diegesis


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