If you are like me, you are probably dealing with postgrad-school anxiety. You see students piling up in bookshops and supermarkets excited about their course load, purchasing brand new shiny stationery… Alternatively, you have been out of school for a
long while, your everyday work schedule is not as exciting as it used to be and you keep on pushing aside those books that you have been meaning to read forever or that short course that you wanted to your employer to fund you has been declined.
You can take charge of your learning by creating your own personal syllabus.
(n.) structured course of self-driven learning
This mode of study can be as complicated or as flexible as you would like it to be. Let’s look at some of the tools that you can take advantage of both online and offline:
- Podcasts and audio books. Though I am loyal to traditional paper backs for my reading podcasts and audio books play a role in reinforcing learning. This method of learning, would be perfect for people learning foreign languages because they have practice how to make conversations. Book bloggers and Booktubers are also making the case for audiobooks and some advising like Ashley of Climb the Stacks on testing the waters with short memoirs read by the books’ authors by using apps such as Audible.
- Webinars and e-courses: If you are like me and you have always wanted to take an art appreciation class so that you make your trips to the museums more interesting and memorable or learn how to code in the latest programming language but you are not sure where to start. You are in luck. The beauty of living in 2015 is that we have access to screens 24/7 so we can take advantage of our fringe hours to take up new hobbies and hone your current skills. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as Udemy and Coursera have gained popularity over the last couple of years and are seen to be the future of learning. In addition,bloggers and youtubers are focusing on content creation and developing free and paid online courses that are range from blogging, scrapbooking, navigating your career to playing music by ear
- Books: Media strategist Ryan Holiday, dropped out of college to pursue his career while continuing educating himself by reading primarily classics. Today, at the age of 27, he has authored 3 books, worked with Robert Greene (of the 48 Laws of Power fame) and appeared in major publications such as Fast Company, New York Times and Forbes. You may argue that reading is an expensive hobby because the average book at Text Book Centre or Books First costs KES 1000-2500 (approx.£6-15). This is may be case but have you tried borrowing from your good friends or alternatively you can find books on the streets of Nairobi (a.k.a Inama Bookshop) from as low as KES 50.
Bonus: One of my favourite articles from Ryan Holiday- I’m a Millennial and I Don’t Understand My Peers—Not Even a Little Bit
- Start an Articles Club! : I stole this idea from the ingenious Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo who back in 2011 was on a mission to fight winter blues (I still can’t get used to sunsets at 4.00pm). In her words:
An articles club would be just like a book club, but we’ll read articles. We’d all read the same story–from, say, The New Yorker or Elle–and chat over (your drink of choice) and snacks. It would be fascinating, timely and a much easier commitment than a book club…
This is a great idea for building friendships in a relaxed environment with people who love reading but can not commit to finishing the latest Man Booker Prize book in time. Here is a glimpse into how Joanna organised her own Articles Club
- Volunteer: After completing my postgraduate degree, I decided to volunteer at one of the local charity shops near my university and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have worked with people from diverse backgrounds and built on my customer service and retail skills. Moreover, I have finally put my numerous hours on Pinterest to good use by helping out with visual merchandising. Working for someone for free or work-shadowing provides you with the opportunity to learn a new skill like baking, cooking, changing a tyre, floral arrangement…well the list is limited by your imagination and passions.
- Visit local places of interest: Hands up, if you have lived in Nairobi (insert your city here) for over 5 years and you have never set foot near the local museum? Dear Reader, you would not imagine the number of born and bred Nairobians. I have never met, who have never visited the Kenya National Archives, which is smack in the middle of the CBD. Though these sites are meant to generate income from tourists, they are also meant teach you about your history so that you don’t repeat mistakes…. these could also serve as sources of inspiration. As Ruthie Ackerman said here: Every city has its mysteries, and amazing experiences can always be found just by uncovering a few for yourself.
A minute or two on the soapbox: Research done by Goldman Sachs and Eventbrite shows that apart from being the first generation of digital natives, millennials value experiences over material wealth. This is in light of the global financial crisis where their parents lost most of their life savings and are still working past their retirement age. In short, their mantras are YOLO and FOMO. So I hope that the key tourism industry players like Kenya Tourism Board and Brand Kenya will capitalise on this and encourage local Kenya tourism. Hat tip to Caroline Mutoko:
As we are drawing to the end of 2015, start planning and setting into motion how you can use your downtime over the holidays and from early 2016 so that you drop off the new-year-resolution-bandwagon by mid-February 2016. Please let me know in the comments section on how you went about creating your personal syllabus as well as what has worked (or not) for you. Lets’ compare bookshelves over on Goodreads
Disclosure: I am not being compensated for reviewing any of the links to products and services included in this post.