School was not my favourite because I really didn’t fit in. In fact, I hated the majority of it. So when the opportunity came to drop out at 16, I did. I then went to community college just to do my GCSEs and a GNVQ in IT and found a completely different environment that reminded me how I loved learning. Unfortunately, the next year I decided to give traditional schools another chance and joined a sixth form at a local secondary school and that was just more of the not-fitting-in I’d experienced for the prior 12 years of my life, so I didn’t even finish off my A-levels, which sucked.
So I think it’s safe to say that I have not had a very positive experience with formal education. It also didn’t help that I was discouraged from going to university, which I realise now could have restored some of my faith in formal education.
Although I am probably behind where I could have been, I am pretty happy with where I’ve got myself!
Over the last few years, self-study has brought me so far. I’ve taught myself everything I’ve needed in my jobs and more, and I’ve advanced in my career because of that. Although my lack of formal education had held me back some, once I found my niche it got a lot easier.
I even enrolled on a 3 month online Excel course and just ploughed through the quizzes to test my skills out in one weekend, and while there were a few things to learn, much of it wasn’t hard for me.
So my relationship with self-studying has been significantly more positive than with formal education, which brings me to my current situation.
The Udacity Nanodegree, with its deadlines and study groups, feels more like formal education than self-study. And to make it more comfortable for myself, I tried to treat it like self-study and just binge through marathon study sessions.
After a whole weekend of studying and not really having any quiet time, I cracked a bit last night. Even though I submitted my first proper project on Udacity for the Nanodegree, I don’t know if it will pass yet. I don’t know how good it is. I don’t know if I have to change it. And even though the rest of the studying is supposed to be spread over three months and I am apparently 10 days ahead, I just lost confidence.
If I can’t manage semi-formal education like this Nanodegree, how am I going to manage when the apprenticeship begins?
And The Solution
So when I got home from work today, I found that my wife had created a study space for me with a mini whiteboard and motivational quotes stuck across it.
It is adorable, and just what I needed.
Nobody really made an effort to support me in studying before, and maybe that’s what I needed all those years ago. Somebody to notice what I’m doing, see that I’m good at it and help me carry on.
I am a grown man, and today was the first day that I felt like my studying was important to someone else, just because it’s important to me.
I think I’ve found my first study-buddy.