The MOOC

The MOOC is slipping away. … There is nothing wrong with it. But it is being superseded by a course for which money had to be paid, and it is being superseded by my work life. True, I’m doing this MOOC partly for work – to have the experience of a student in a MOOC – but it is being crowded out by the “required” parts of my job.
It’s a good course. It’s well organized. The technical glitches are being handled well by the staff, and the course is moving along. I enjoy the videos and the interviews. Some of the student work is really nice, some superficial, but one can involve oneself as much or as little as one wishes, and one can choose the ways in which one wishes to be involved. That is the beauty of not taking something for credit. I realized that to truly be like a student and achieve it requires …
Work! Time! It’s a course! And I’m not a student anymore. Is it because I want to do it my way? Maybe partly, indeed. Not to be constrained by assignments and pressured by keeping on a schedule? Yes, of course. But it’s also the fact that I am no longer a student of privilege, as I was when I studied and devoted my life to it. I have a full-time job and a life, and to spend a lot of time on this course means pushing in ways that I don’t want to do if I don’t have to do.
Am I giving up? No. Not yet. In fact, I’m reading Walt Whitman’s America as my bedtime reading. … And I have made some realizations. I enjoy history – well written – perhaps better than poetry. Poetry was never my forte. I love writing my own, and I love reading the poetry of my friends. And I’m enjoying reading Whitman. But poetry is not the religious experience for me it is for some, nor is it the aesthetic experience it is for me that it is for some, nor is it the linguistic word experience and meaning experience for me that it is for some. I love playing with language, but more at the common level, at the fun level, at the not-so-genius level!!!!
I’m fascinated by what I’m learning and fascinated to know that I have learned so much in such a short time: Whitman the man, the thrust of his words, how different he was from many poets of the time, the 19th century, America, 19th century America. And I enjoy the comingling of my own family history in it, thinking about how old Whitman was and where he was when my great-great-grandmother Mary Melvina was born in upstate New York in the 1840’s.
So how much will I become a student and do the work? With the time constraints, there’s probably not much chance. It makes me think again about my own students who are over-extended. How can a college education be the deep, rich, and textured experience it could be when they are overextended? How can what they learn be enriching for them, and not simply hoops to jump through to get the piece of paper that says they have a degree?

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