I’ve not been able to post on here quite as frequently as I would have liked for the past few weeks. The birth of my daughter has meant that my time has been squeezed in all manner of ways. Unfortunately, my daughter had to be delivered by caesarian section and, consequently, my wife was made to rest for six weeks whilst she recovered from the operation. Obviously, this meant that I needed to up my share of the daily chores to allow my wife to get the necessary recuperation time.
As well as impacting on my social time (which isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things), it has hsad a massive impact on my studies. I knew a while back that the baby was due in April, so I should have been well prepared for the impact that would have on my life and studies. Sadly, I underestimated by quite some way. I foolishly believed that I could take a couple of weeks out to spend time with my family, before burrowing my head back in the books and cracking on with my studying. What an idiot.
It is now around eight weeks since the birth of our lovely little girl, and still I am struggling. The first six weeks were obviously a write-off (for the reasons outlined above), but the past couple of weeks have been tricky too. I don’t think it helps that my current module (Research in the Profession) is particularly heavy going. I have been reading core texts, journal articles and the module pack time and time again and, for whatever reason, it is getting very difficult to make the information stick. Every time I feel like I have had a eureka moment, I realise that there was something else I misunderstood. To be honest, it is easy to see why I have been struggling. Let’s face it what would you rather do? Spend some time with your newborn child, or read up on qualitative and quantitative research? Bit of a no-brainer, don’t you think?
And yet, study I must. I desperately want to complete the course so that I can delete the square brackets from the blog’s title. This means that I have to get some focus and get on with the outstanding assignments. The sooner I can get the modules done, the sooner I can spend quality time with my daughter. It seems so easy when you write it down. Get focus. Complete assignments. Simples (as that irritating meerkat advert might say). Maybe it is that easy. I’ll let you know after the week-end.
Studies have taken a bit of a backseat for the moment while I enjoy the brief respite of two weeks holiday in Spain. After the terrible summer in England, a bit of sun is no bad thing! One of the many good aspects of taking a break from studies, is the ability to read something other than books on library theory. Not that there is anything wrong with that you understand, it’s just sometimes you long to read something that does not refer to Dewey numbers or reference sources. So I have been enjoying the chance to catch up on some reading, including, shock horror, a work of fiction (click on my LibraryThing link and you will see I tend towards the factual) – The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. A strange little book, I have a feeling it will become one of those cult classic things.
Anyway, whilst I am here, I intend to check out the local library (even when I am on holiday….) and see what it has to offer. Depressingly, it appears to be as underused as library services back home as my wife (who has lived here almost her entire life) couldn’t actually tell me where it is. The only other library that I have ever visited outside the UK was the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen a couple of years ago. Sadly, I suspect the library here will not be as visually striking. Still, we can but hope.
After weeks, nay months, of hard slog, I have finally completed my Sources and Services module. Time to crack open a beer, chill out and then, when I have just started to relax, worry about what marks I’ll receive. Ah, the life of a postgraduate distance learner – it sucks.
Anyway, this last module caused a great deal of consternation amongst many of my peers who found the assignments too vague. I thought I would benefit from the previous discussions when it came to my turn, and use their experience to my benefit. Well, it didn’t really turn out like that (what a surprise). It has taken me almost a full four months to complete this module, which must be some kind of record for me. Four months on two assignments. Here’s hoping that won’t happen again!
The assignments themselves were a report and a PowerPoint presentation and accompanying report. The first report was relatively straightforward, although it was difficult to know what the boundaries were. Should it incorporate some of the content you would expect to find in a business plan? Or should it be treated entirely differently? The one thing I particularly struggled with on this assignment was the dividing line between fact and fiction. Wherever you can reference, obviously you do so. However, when you cannot access accurate figures and you fabricate costs, how do you know that the assessor can determine whether they should be referenced or not? I don’t know. I guess the whole thing was simpler than I made it, it still made my head spin though.
And then comes the PowerPoint presentation. Do you make it all bells and whistles? Just how far is too far with all the little embellishments that you can add to a PowerPoint presentation? None of this was defined within the assignment outline. But that was nothing compared to trying to get your head around how someone would assess a presentation dominated with bullet points without the aid of the presenter’s notes. How can that make sense? Perhaps all that was required was to demonstrate the ability to utilise PowerPoint, and the actual content was secondary. Whatever, it took weeks to get my head around that little conundrum.
Still, here I sit tapping away. Beer in one hand, neat pile of envelopes containing completed assignments by my side. Closure perhaps? Well, maybe when I get my marks.