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So much to learn – so little time

5 March 2009

Last month saw me decide to return to university study, as there are so many subjects that interest me that I could either have a hobby of “life”, and spend all my spare time sifting through much of what is available on the Internet, or instead focus my interests on targetted and effective learning. So I’ve chosen the latter, in the form of The Open University‘s Open Degree programme.

Strangely, the Open Degree is a qualification of which most people seem to be completely unaware. Within a few constraints and requirements, it is effectively a roll-your-own Bachelor’s degree in Arts or Science. You can begin the process without actually choosing to enrol in the programme, instead just doing individual units (courses) that you decide to allocate at a later date, and then choose whether you want a BA (Open) or BSc (Open) or, and this is something that makes it very appealing to me at least, you can select a named degree (e.g. BSc (Computing)) if you decide after some study that you do wish to specialise in something. Another advantage is that, aside from the occasional course expiring, being replaced, or having some time restrictions (some finance, medicine, etc, courses), there is no time limit on when you must complete all your study. 20 years to complete? No problems.

It’s with all this in mind that I’ve decided to take up the torch and study a degree of topics that interest me. Such things include, but most certainly aren’t limited to (nor in any particular order): astronomy, archaeology, history, philosophy, art & art history, forensic science, languages, environmental science, classical studies, mathematics, evolutionary biology, ethics, creative writing, literature, political use of the media, and a few work-related topics. I also hope to be able to develop my critical thinking skills during the process.

One of my Twitter friends calls me a Renaissance man, and I suspect he’s referring to the breadth of my interests and the sense of urgency to cram as much experiential knowledge in my head as I can while I can. That is, a polymath — like Pythagoras, Aristotle, Da Vinci, or Benjamin Franklin — as opposed to the protagonist in the film of the same name. I choose the former option, if you don’t mind…

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