Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Howie Balaban - Back To School: Week 5

That noise you heard the other day was the loud barbaric yawp erupting from me and my house. Two classes down!

(Yes, I just alluded to Dead Poets Society. It’s a great movie.)

As of Friday morning, both classes I’d signed up for on this back to school adventure saw their respective boxes checked. I finished all the work for one class this past Thursday (more on that in a moment) and had left myself one actual assignment to do Friday morning. With a little bit of help from my soon-to-be 6th-grade daughter, I finished that final task by interviewing her. I won’t get into too much detail about what the professor had asked for, but let’s just say that what I turned in should have worked if outside-the-box thinking is the way to go. 

The assignment in question dealt with students from grades 2 through 5, and how they prefer to write - on computers or with pencil and paper. I asked four simple questions, Teagan answered each one in separate videos, and I turned those in with a huge smile on my face. Since the professor asked not to turn in sentences or paragraphs in response to a question, and I believed I earned enough points to have a bit of fun, I did things differently. Ultimately, even if I wound up not earning full credit, it would only cost me 2 points. Out of 200. 

So, like I said: I had some fun.

The other class saw very little assigned this past week, as the professor chose to let all of us focus on our final project. That project - a research paper - involved an interview and then an analysis of it, supporting it with five or six sources. Younger me would have been sweating this one out, wondering who I could talk to and whether I’d even get it done. Current me knew who to contact, and I also knew that transcribing an interview and then recapping it is newspaper 101. Researching my conclusions was made easier by the local library reopening and a few quick internet searches. 

By the time I finished that term paper Thursday morning, I had conducted two interviews, recapped both, transcribed both, and used what I believed to be proper sources to adequately analyze what had been discussed. As the guidelines for the paper stated, a person would earn an “A” for going above and beyond and being creative. Until proven otherwise, I choose to believe that was what I did here. If only I could tell younger me that things like this just aren’t as hard as I used to make them out to be.

Oh, the interview recaps and analysis totaled almost 14 full pages. (Don’t worry, it was double spaced and 12-point font as per directions.) Given what was asked, I am positive I went above and beyond. Whether I did so creatively enough is for the professor to decide. 

The bottom line in all of this, though, is that the past 5 weeks I have proven to myself that going back to school isn’t as daunting as I thought it would be originally. Originally, I must admit, I was apprehensive. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. However, like I mentioned last week, I realized about ⅔ the way through that I can. It remains to be seen whether I can maintain this positive streak, but I have signed up for two more classes and both start during the week after July 4th. 

Oh, I also turn 40 that week. 

Bring it on!

Howie Balaban’s back to school journey will be chronicled here. He will be back in July after the first week of his second batch of classes is over. Until then, he encourages everyone that it’s never too late to start something meaningful.