Monday, September 29, 2008

Learners: Waverly Fitzgerald on Autumn, Books and Classes

Today I would like to share some wisdom from Waverly Fitzgerald, the author of Slow Time. Waverly writes about the gifts of autumn and learning. (1)

I was one of those kids who thrilled to the idea of returning to school, to structured days, to homework assignments, to new books to read. In elementary school, the fat textbooks crowded with pictures. In college, the trip to the college bookstore, scanning the aisles to see what textbooks my professors had chosen.

While doing research on time for my Slow Time book, I learned there's an identifiable upsurge in intellectual activity twice a year: fall and spring. This was measured by the number of books checked out of libraries, scores on tests and amendments to patents. Kay Jamison in her research on creativity discovered a similar rhythm: artistic and other creative works peaked in early fall, with a smaller peak in spring.

I suspect this connection between autumn and learning is deeply embedded in all of us who grew up starting school in September. Every year I feel this urge. This year, it's been hitting me harder than usual. While looking at the Impressionist paintings, I wanted to take an oil painting class. And the only reason I didn't immediately look for such a class is because I'm already enrolled in four classes this autumn: a yoga class, a writing class, a class in Nonviolent Communication and a herb class.

.....I always ask (my own) students to design their own course. What would they take, if they could create their perfect educational program? Who do they want to study with? What classes would they take? What books would they read?

It's a question I ask myself as well, whenever I find myself longing to enroll in a doctorate program (I've been eyeing the one at California Institute of Integral Studies for over twenty years—that's how long I've known that I want to write a doctoral thesis on the origins of obscure Italian saints). It would be possible, I think, to do the work as an independent scholar, or to enroll in a college that offers a distance learning programs.

Do you have any longings to take classes this Autumn? Could you design a learning program that would allow you to study the subjects closest to your heart?

May autumn offer you many opportunities for learning,

- Wavery Fitzgerald

To read more of her work - and this essay in full - visit her School of the Seasons newsletter for Fall.



September holidays

School of the Seasons


Reprinted with permission.

Photo: from the Home Decor Village News


Anonymous said...

I always seem to be wanting to learn something new. And when Fitzgerald talks about pursuing a doctorate, that's just one of my goals! Thanks for the inspiring post.

Hecate said...

I've been really enjoying UTunes. iTunes has tons of free college lectures that you can download. Sunday, I was knitting and listening to a U of Berkeley lecture on European history.