Returning to Education When I am Really Rather Old:
Starting to Learn Greek
You might remember that a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I plan to learn the languages that the Bible was originally written in—ancient Hebrew and Greek. I enrolled in a course at Spurgeon’s College, was accepted, and the term is now about to begin. It is a long time since I attended a college. It has all been very scary! These are the most terrifying points to date:
I received an email, saying we need to rearrange the timetable as one member of the class works on Thursdays. Wednesday was suggested, but I have my Mandarin lesson on Wednesdays—should I admit that I am learning another language or will that be seen as a conflict? I decided to say I was busy that day but not give a reason.
After much pondering, when a form arrived asking if I have any special needs, I indicated that I do (one of the diffy students, as my family put it). Since my brain surgery, there are a few things I cannot manage—like concentrating for more than about two hours without a break. But how to communicate that in a way that showed I was still an intelligent human, I simply need a ‘brain break’ to recharge? I therefore ticked the ‘special needs’ box, explained that this simply meant I might need to go and sit in my car for 20 minutes to recharge (I sounded like a synth in Humans!) and waited to see what would happen. A very nice email came back, saying they had made a note of my potential need, and I should let them know if I need anything. Very kind.
The college have their own website thing: Moodle and I was told how to log-on. This was extremely scary, as it is full of acronyms which I didn’t understand, and a complex array of colours and links. I looked at it, then shut it down again quickly.
The following day, I forced myself to log-on again and try to make sense of some of it. I managed to find the timetable for my course and printed it off (it is comforting to have something written on paper when you’re my age). This then directed me to some pre-course preparation that I was meant to complete.
I went back to Moodle, and watched the Principle giving a short speech. Logged off.
Returned when I had recovered, and found a short test that I needed to complete. It is a long, long time since I have done an exam. It was all done online, and it had to be completed within an hour, so there was a little clock ticking away in the corner of the screen to add a further element of stress. I didn’t know whether I could return to pages once they were complete, or if it would wipe my answers, so I tried to completely finish and proof-read each question before going to the next page. The time whizzed past. Husband was especially noisy, so I yelled at him to shut his door. A telephone rang. My pulse was racing, I forgot to breathe. But the questions were fine. Some were very quick (put the correct word into the space) and some took longer (add punctuation to an essay). It was all very churchy, but I guess that’s to be expected at a Bible college, even though it was an English test. I finished, within the hour, and sent it off. Went for a cup of tea.
The next excitement was a parcel. I have been sent a ‘Teach Yourself New Testament Greek’ book (doesn’t show much faith in the tutor, but maybe they’re covering their backs!) It looks fabulous, and I am dying to dive in. The first chapter is called Read This First so of course I ignored that and flicked straight to the alphabet page. What fun! I am chanting every time I go upstairs now, it’s like teaching the children the alphabet when they were small, but without the annoying tune: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta…
When I did go back and read the first chapter, it was brilliant. As you know, when I was too ill to be able to do anything else, I learnt Mandarin. I was never able to learn languages at school, so I tried to teach myself differently, surrounding myself with the language and not worrying too much about making progress or understanding everything as I went. I now speak very bad, but pretty fluent, Mandarin (it’s good enough for me to have coffee with a friend who speaks no English and we manage pretty well to discuss our children and mothers-in-law). Anyway, this book suggested all the things I had discovered as a way to learn a language—like not trying to completely understand everything before moving on to the next thing (the opposite of how you would learn maths) and attempting to read things that are ‘too difficult’ so your brain can work them out, and not studying for too long because the brain assimilates information when you are ‘resting’ rather than studying. I was very excited! I went and bubbled about it to Husband. He has now set a time limit on how long I am allowed to tell him about my Greek lessons. But that doesn’t matter, because I can tell you instead.
I will let you know in a future blog how my Orientation Week and first lectures go. It’s all being done virtually this semester, so I’m planning to wear my killer heels and a pink wig.
Hope you have some excitement this week too. Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x