Having completed my most recent assignment, I find myself in that leisurely lull in which I have the time to reflect on my progress before taking the plunge back into the books to tackle Classical Reception.
You might remember in my first blog post I banged on about the art of note taking and how it’s all about finding what works for you, active learning and the rest..! Well, it would seem that for me, this particular skill has eluded me once again. After a lot of thought (probably too much to be honest) I had settled on my method of annotating and highlighting PDF’s electronically. Now, on the face of it this seemed a great idea, it certainly looked like I was making effective notes and engaging in my own method of active learning. However, despite my efforts as I came to write my assignment I found my technique had failed me. I knew what I wanted to say and how to say it, but I couldn’t for the life of me find the supporting evidence in the course materials. It was all in there, but my annotation and highlighting method left me no discernible way of locating it, as a result I wasted too much time going over and over the course materials again and staring at pages upon pages of multi-coloured text in the vain hope that I’d find the material I needed.
Lesson 1 – Note taking, highlighting, annotating, sticky notes to name just a few DO NOT WORK FOR ME. It’s time to stop agonising over this and just get stuck into the material. My intention will be to use the course forum as a place to articulate my thoughts, generate ideas and engage in that elusive art of active learning.
As I think about my progress as a student I want to draw upon the advice of my tutor who suggests that documenting thoughts can be useful in consolidating that progress and as I write this I couldn’t agree more! So in answer to the question what have I learned? Well here’s one skill that I already possessed, having a history background, but even so I really engaged with the technique in this case… also, I learned so much more than I’d hoped.
Being critical is great…
Aside from the skills in critical analysis (that all good historians & classicists must possess), taking a step back from a scholarly article to question the material, conclusions and use of evidence is a truly rewarding experience. I’ve studied countless scholarly articles throughout my studies, but never have I engaged with one in the depth that I did in my most recent experience. I openly admit that at first I found it difficult to think that I could effectively critique the work of a well-respected scholar, but then it dawned upon me that this didn’t matter one bit. It wasn’t my task to pass judgement on the quality of the article, only the ways in which the evidence was used to construct the given argument, furthermore as I engaged more deeply with the material I found my self open to a plethora of new and exciting questions.
Lesson 2 – Embrace the critical stance! It’s important to stay objective and provide a balanced commentary, but critical analysis is the key to taking Classical Studies forward.
That’s all for the time being, it’s time to take a few days break, then it’s back to the books.