Return to Study: The Ups, Downs, and Sideways
Week One, Starting Out
The door has been unlocked, I’ve been readmitted, and it’s great to be back, researching a topic of my own choosing while nestled in the arms of the OU’s tried-and-tested higher education system: Challenged. Reassured. Supported autonomy.
The OU Online Library service has morphed out of recognition over the past 25 years.
My difficulties can be placed into four categories:
- Language and Interpretation,
My literal take on words and signs was a stumbling block in the online surgery with PowerPoint presentation. A tick? A thumbs up? To me they are not interchangeable.
I found myself confused by the images alongside the text “What did it mean? Why was it there? What are they doing?” Of course, the answers were, “Nothing. Decoration. Irrelevant.” But they were there, so there must be a reason, and so it must be important.
- Planning and Organisation,
Week 1 leads us through the need to plan and how to plan, complete with templates. Being autistic I am a follower of rules and instructions. I am also highly organised to the point that I used to co-present teacher training sessions on classroom organisation. So, I follow rules yet am a maverick, living by the adage that the better you know the rules the more efficiently you can break them. This dichotomy leads to hours reading and refining generic schedules and planning sheets only to reject the premise on which they are based.
My time is spent mastering time; I refuse to let it master me since it is an abstract concept in terms of our societal relationship with it.
- Theories and Cognition,
Autism creates a default mode to analyse, over-think, over-react. As a ‘bottom-up’ thinker I see the trees long before I am aware of the wood, and a recent questionnaire has suggested that I am also an extreme ‘S’ type thinker observing patterns and systems in the detail everywhere.
The Course requires the asking of a specific question that will set the research journey.
Since my autism diagnosis just over two years ago, I have known what I wanted to research. It may have had some edges knocked off, to be replaced by other facets, but it is smoothing into a coherent entity.
I believe it is doable, and I have had support from staff on the microcredential I recently completed. I feel positive, buoyant even.
Even the ‘Downs’ have positives, as I find that my difficulties are feeding directly into the very issues I want to explore. Serendipity is alive and well.
Perhaps you are considering a return to study. Perhaps you are neuro-diverse, feeling that the journey is too fraught to contemplate.
Please join me on my new education pathway. I hope it inspires you, or at least causes you to pause and consider the possibilities.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay open to new direction.
Good luck with that.
My OU course was many years ago and things have moved on since then, but be aware that much of the ‘decoration’ around the online modules (which didn’t exist in my earlier experience of the ’90s) will be there to retain those who are drifting and probably contribute NOTHING to understanding of the tenets.
Distance learning is – by definition – a lonely ptocess, but you may have advantages in that respect. Your insights could bring great benefits to distance learning.
It is less likely these days, but some educators are still proud to declare that they fly ‘by the seat of their pants’. Don’t knock yourself out looking for a system that may – at best – be intuitive.
Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement Cathy. I’ve since had the results for the course I completed through the Winter and have begun the course I am studying alongside this one. Thank goodness I am organised. It has given me back a certain buzz that nothing else can touch.