One aspect of Dominican life that so appeals to me is the passion for study. While I’ve always been an enthusiastic student, my idea of study has expanded considerably under the guidance of the sisters. Not only has “study” become broader than academics, but I recognize a deeper way of absorbing—and integrating—what I learn.
I still get that adolescent, ego-driven satisfaction from earning an “A” grade, but I have a richer appreciation for the simple pleasure of being exposed to new and interesting ideas. As a “traditional learner”, I find well-prepared lectures hugely gratifying—just let me sponge-it-up without the distractions of response and interaction! I understand that this passive mode of learning is an “old school” model (no pun intended), but I love it nonetheless.
This is probably why I’m so smitten by Coursera, an online “MOOC” (Massive Online Open Course) platform that provides access to a vast array of freely available academic courses. I regularly scan the course offerings and find interesting subjects to dabble in. Moreover, the lectures are usually top-notch, offered by institutions known for academic excellence. My most recent courses include:
· “Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences” from Rutgers University,
· “Journey of the Universe: The Unfolding of Life” from Yale University,
· “Buddhism and Modern Psychology” from Princeton University, and
· “Confronting the Big Questions: Highlights of Modern Astronomy” from the University of Rochester.
Tools like Coursera make it easy and fun to be a life-time learner; I can “attend” lectures at my convenience. I may not retain many of the details I hear, but exposure to something new stretches me just a tad—and it’s SO much healthier than binging on Netflix! There’s also a social justice component, too, with open access to education for anyone with the time and gumption.