Tag Archives: OU

Study Plans for 2016

I haven’t done any formal studying for a while now. Something went wrong with the funding for my OU course and, since I didn’t really get on with DD101 (I know I passed, but I never had any feedback or a score or anything) and for a whole host of other reasons, I won’t be picking it up again any time soon. But as it turned out, we had a really bad year which made not studying a good thing, I could not have coped with study deadlines at the same time.

I changed my OU degree from Q69, Combined Social Science, to an Open Degree, but nothing really appeals at the moment. So if I do pick it up again, I don’t know what direction I will go in. I wasn’t impressed with the way the OU worked, the materials, the tutor, and it felt like a waste of time, money and effort.

I had been considering the possibilities of studying Theology (which obviously would necessitate moving to another college anyway, St John’s Nottingham is an online option) – firstly in the hope of following the vocation of the priesthood, and secondly as a back-up plan, I could use it for teaching (primary or secondary) or alternatively as a chaplain of some sort or another (hospital/ school/ college/ military).

All of those possible paths have stumbling blocks – principally of the financial kind, and my health has been very poor this year, so I don’t know if I will even be able to take up a career any time soon even if I do manage to get qualified, I’ll be 45 this year, and I have already had 12 years of ME.
So at this point I’m just shrugging my shoulders and letting it all wash over me and trying not to care or worry.

A (virtual) friend of mine with ME started a Law Degree a few years ago. I can’t imagine how you would manage that with this illness, but he seemed to. I took an intro to Law (a 10 point OU course) It wasn’t hard, but it didn’t exactly thrill me!

But in an effort to ensure that my brain doesn’t turn to mush, I will probably start looking into what’s available to study informally this year again. I don’t like the idea that schools, colleges and universities act as the gate-keepers of knowledge. The whole qualification and student finance game seems like a big racket to me.

I have previously bought OU materials to study on my own without going through the rigmarole of the course and the debt. I have even toyed with the idea of studying medicine just for the fun of it. It might come in handy, you never know.

Do any of you have recommendations for any good courses coming up? So many books! So little time! 🙂

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Twisty-turny Lifey-wifey

2015 is not shaping up to be all I hoped it would be so far.

2015

Firstly, I was not able to go ahead with the next OU module due to a funding error. The same funding error that Student Finance England promised me was sorted out in September. So now I have lost a whole year’s worth of study. I’m beginning to feel that perhaps I’m not destined to study with the OU.

Then the Ministry course that was being run in North Cornwall, for 28 churches, was cancelled because only 3 people (myself and my eldest son included) had signed up for it. Out of 28 churches. Yes, you read that right. Spirit of Apathy, anyone?

And then, this week, just in time for Lent, we have been served with an eviction notice. Our Landlord – the one who has delayed and prevaricated and refused to pay for repairs for the entire time we have lived here – has decided to sell the house, and that it will sell more quickly empty. Charming. (Now that he’s evicted us, he’s decided to actually replace the boiler.)

I wonder whether there are any nice, kind, honourable landlords. And then I remember being a landlord. We thought we were nice, kind and honourable. But we were also appallingly naive.

Because we knew the tenants, and they were down on their luck, we didn’t take a deposit. We set our rent at a level just enough to pay our mortgage so that we could rent elsewhere, not a penny of profit. We left the house in an outstanding condition – better than we had ever had it while we lived there.

But our tenants, when he lost his job, rather than contacting us to let us know they were having trouble, just stopped paying rent. From October to May, we had no rental income. Our actual income was so low that we didn’t have money for food. we literally didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. We were forced to evict our tenants. It felt awful.

Our tenants never contacted us, they just skipped town owing us thousands and thousands of pounds.

When we went back to our house, we were astounded at what they had done to it. They had utterly ruined our family home, short of setting it on fire, they had done everything they possibly could to make it unliveable, and it was covered in thick, black ooze from chain-smoking. Their poor kids. It didn’t get like that overnight – they must have lived like that for months.

As we were penniless by that stage, we had no choice but to sell it, at a loss, barely covering our debts and the deposit for this house.

This time round, we have no savings, no way of raising a deposit for a new house, and strangely we find that landlords and letting agents don’t like people who rely on housing benefit to boost the pay their pitifully low income to pay the rent.

We are in the unenviable position (as so many thousands in this country are) of being totally at the mercy of merciless landlords, in a merciless society.

I wonder what happened to our tenants, where they went, who would possibly have taken them on.

I was angry with our tenants for a long, long time. How could they have been so cruel to us when we were so good to them?

And then I remember that he was an adult adoptee, abandoned in the ’50s with no knowledge of his parentage, and estranged from his adoptive family. I remember that he was depressed already when they moved in. And I wish I had tried harder to help them. (Even though I still wish they hadn’t taken it out on us.)

I’ve been surrounded by rich Christians all my life. In fact, I was one of them. I grew up in a reasonably wealthy family. We owned our own home in a nice neighbourhood, we wanted for nothing, really. But my family’s fortunes changed a long time ago, and it has been downhill ever since.

But not one time in all our crises have we ever been offered financial help, practical assistance, or even emotional reassurance from the Church. If there’s one thing that makes me more angry than anything else it is that. The Church at least should be a haven of mercy.

timey

The title of this post refers, of course, to Doctor Who, and wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey things. Life is so twisty-turny and unpredictable. It seems that nothing is guaranteed, nothing in this life can be relied upon.

If I could go back in time, to a better part of my life – when things were less complicated – when would I go to? If you’ve seen the film ‘About Time’, you’ll know that you can’t go back beyond the birth of your children, so I think I would choose to go back to the day my youngest was born, before everything went wrong.

And I’d do things differently.

Rounding Up the Year – 2014 – It’s been a weird one.

2014 has not been the greatest year, but it certainly hasn’t been the worst year by a very long mile.

We had only just moved into this house (in November 2013) with mixed feelings – not the home I had hoped for, we’re still renting with no end in sight, but relieved to be out of the hell that was the previous rental. But on the home front I have spent most of the year battling the agents over a long list of problems, not least of which the intermittent hot water, which thankfully was finally fixed in time for Christmas.

At the beginning of the year, I set out meaning to read one book a week for #Read52 but I doubt I have even read one a month. I can’t remember another year when I have read so little in fact. I started off the year with lots of energy and did several courses – an OU course, DD101, an introduction to Social Science, as well as several MOOCS, and I also volunteered with Scouts and Guides AND Boys / Girls Brigade. By the beginning of the summer holidays I had totally overdone it and had a relapse which kept me almost housebound over the entire summer and well into September. I have been getting better since then but I have had to pace myself and I haven’t resumed any of my volunteering again so far.

In the Spring – also when I was feeling healthy and strong and on top of the world – I put myself forward for Ordination. I had two interviews and was informed that, although it was considered that I had a ‘call’, I wasn’t quite Anglican enough yet and needed to do several things before coming back to them. Although I know it was the right decision, I did experience that as a kind of rejection that has made me feel quite miserable and frustrated since. This Spring I will need to decide whether or not I want to pursue it. I have a feeling that it may be an uphill struggle, and it’s a funny kind of mirror of the struggle one has to go through in order to convert to Judaism – you can expect to be sent away and persist several times before your wish to convert is taken seriously.

And then the other big issue of 2014 was the beginning of a possible adoption journey which so far has consisted of a lot of reading (mainly of blogs – see the blog roll to the right for recommendations) and attending information meetings with the Council and an agency, but not much else so far. I have been lucky enough to discover the amazing adoption community on twitter which, since mostly anonymous, is able to be very open and honest about the reality of adoption and they have been kind enough to answer my questions.

Oh and finally, I did successfully complete my second ‘novel’ for NaNoWriMo in November. I haven’t started editing yet…

Overall, 2014 has been something of a weird and unusual year – not good, not bad, but a lot of new stuff and big stuff being contemplated which could possibly lead to big changes.

There seems to be a lot of pressure to make resolutions and have a ‘new start’ for the new year. But ‘New Year’ is an invented non-entity. The winter solstice has already passed and there isn’t even a new or a full moon – there is no astronomical reason to say that the year turns on this day or night and yet somehow we imbue this date with significance that give it a kind of magic. Whatever. Every day can be a new start. I would love to resist it, but I find myself – as I often seem to do – in the position of being very unhappy with where my life is and feel the need to make some decisions about the direction it is taking. In that sense I would like to avail myself of the opportunity to make a new start. but on the other hand, I feel as though there is very little within my control that I can change.

I have realised that I perceive myself as a victim in many areas while often seeing everything as being ‘all my fault’ – all of which results inevitably in misery. in other words, my thinking has become rather negative and unhelpful.

I have made some painful realisations recently, the details of which I won’t go into in any depth but they revolve around needing to rely on myself for what I need. This is nothing new really – when I did the 12 Steps back in 2010 in working through grief and did a ‘life evaluation’, it became clear that my life was very strongly characterised by disappointment. What has taken me a little longer to take on board is the fact that it hasn’t just been ‘bad luck’ or that I just need to wait for hope to be realised around the corner. No, it is that my expectations (of God, of marriage, of family, of friends, of church, of community, of neighbours) were wildly outside what they were prepared to give or be to me. (The book ‘Disappointment with God’ by Philip Yancey, that I read many years ago springs to mind. Worth reading, although it doesn’t resolve anything, and I seem to remember wanting to throw it across the room! But it very eloquently explores the theme and I do recommend it.)

So the crux of the matter, I think, is that I need to change my thinking. I don’t mean that I need to ‘think positively’ – I have had an earful this year about ‘the Secret’ / Law of Attraction from people who have a ridiculously easy life because they’re selfishly and thoughtlessly living at others’ expense but believe they have ‘attracted’ their good fortune by thinking positively while all the dreadful things that have happened to other people were also somehow ‘attracted’ by them. NO, NO, NO! Although that philosophy may be ‘attractive’ (pun intended) it really is the most offensive claptrap when you think about it in any depth. So as my Dad (of blessed memory) used to say, “Take the meat and leave the bones” – if it helps you to think positively, that’s great! Please just don’t let it be a weapon to bash yourself or others when disappointment, failure and disaster happen. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. And if you’re successful while others aren’t, it’s not their fault. Really, people, as a philosophy LoA is severely lacking. It’s not that simple. Life is (and people are) complex, multi-faceted, inter-connected and unpredictable.

What I do mean is that I need to start thinking of myself as capable – capable of providing for my own needs without relying on anybody else to make me happy, capable of making my own decisions, capable of making the life that I want for myself without relying on anybody else to do it for me.

So, 2015…

My main goals are always along the same lines – get healthier, enjoy life more, be a better person, be more disciplined. This year though, I would also like to learn better how to look after myself (knowing now that nobody else is going to do it). That means, in the first instance, forcing myself to go to the hairdresser’s. Its such a small thing but I have developed something of a hairdresserphobia. I have probably only been perhaps three times in the last 15 years or more. I know that, if I manage to get there, I will feel better for it, but I really do have to force myself to do it.

I am intending to sign up for some new courses. My OU account is still apparently having funding problems, so I’m still not sure whether or not I’ll be able to do the course I had intended (I wasn’t able to sign up for anything in September but I was assured it had been sorted in time for the spring term, but it seems not…), but I have signed up for a Ministry Course with the deanery and a free Archaeology MOOC, and I may do some other things, depending on finances.

I have been extremely frustrated with my de-cluttering efforts over the holidays so far. I was hoping to be able to have the house spic and span with a view to finally registering for Stage 1 of the adoption process. (It has been around 8 months now since we first enquired with the Council about adoption). So now I’m not sure whether untidy house is an insurmountable obstacle. I have got rid of nearly 50 books along with old furniture and lots of other junk including 20 years of magazines! But the place seems ten times more untidy that when I started so it’s obviously going to be an ongoing project.

I do know that, for the purpose of adoption, I need to do some work on building up a bigger and better support network, since any that I had before we moved down here is now completely non-existent, and developing a new one down here has not come easily.

I may come back with some more specific goals linked to specific times and dates because I think the deadline aspect is a crucial layer of accountability that causes resolutions to fail when they’re not included.

So finally, wishing all (any?) readers a happy new year and, as ever, I hope to be more consistent 🙂

DD101 – TMA 03

I have just finished the third TMA (essay) for my Open University Course, DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences.

I didn’t think I could do it at all, in fact this essay has had me in tears and convinced that not only I don’t want to carry on with this particular bit of the course, but that I’m really not cut out to be doing Social Science at all.

It has been so discouraging, because I have studied Sociology before at GCSE (although actually, ahem, I suppose it was actually O Level) and A Level and I had loved the subject, but I don’t remembering it being this hard.

TMA 03 was a two part essay. The first part was 500 words analysing a table of data from the Census related to the ethnicity of residents of the national parks in England and Wales. Huh, I didn’t know we had any ‘national parks’.

The second part was 1000 words on the topic of how certain communities are included or excluded in certain places.

Oh my. I had thought the essay on ‘rubbish’ was hard.

It was the data table that really had me in tears, because my mathematical skills are oo, rusty shall we say? It was fairly obvious that ‘White’ was vastly more numerous than any other ethnicity, but it was a very poorly categorised set of data really. Why, for example, does the government categorise ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Irish Traveller’ together as one ethnicity? They seem political rather than bona fide ethnic categorizations. But ours not to reason why or comment, just to analyse.

Part two was just a straightforward essay really, and should have been easy because it was only 1000 words, but because I had procrastinated for so long, putting it off because I was finding the first part such a headache, I had to cram everything in today and cobble it together before the deadline. So I’m not expecting a very good result this time. Ho hum, I got it done anyway.

Now I just need to start getting back into a regular rhythm of study and keep to it so I don’t get into so much trouble next time.

How’s everybody else finding the course?

 

DD101 Making Social Lives, Chapter 5

I am very behind – not least because I get distracted by other things. But I am trying to catch up.

In my reading today, of chapter 5 of Making Social Lives, on p. 229 the author says:

“the argument should not be based on the idea that there once existed a high street that was somehow home-grown, coherent and disconnected from the world outside. Rather, if we were to lament the loss of a sense of place on these streets, then our argument would have to be that it is not that high streets have become more and more connected to the outside world, and therefore somehow weakened as unique places, but that the quality of the connections has changed. The challenge would be to seek to build better connections and so make better places.”

He has been previously arguing that the country idyll is imagined, I understand that, but why can’t you argue that a place should be unique?

He seems to be saying that cookie-cutter high streets with all the same chains of big stores can’t be argued against on any other basis than ‘connections’.

Am I missing something obvious?

DD101 Week What?

Well I don’t even know which week we are supposed to be in.

I have looked at the next TMA, number 3, and it is more horrible even than the last two. This time it’s wading through a table of statistics of the ethnicity of visitors to national parks in the UK.

I haven’t had a chance to look at the materials at all this week. Maybe I will take them up to read in bed, but I don’t think so – I really need an awake brain to be able to take anything in.

I don’t know what to do about feeling so negative about this course. I’m disappointed because I expected to love it.

I don’t think it’s just a lack of discipline and determination on my part, as I have never (to my memory) had this with any of the previous studies I have done, not even at school!

In fact, I loved sociology at school, so why am I hating it now?

Does DD101 get better?

DD101 TMA02

I had been warned that DD101 was dull, but some people have said they love the course, so I am trying to keep an open mind

The second TMA topic though, was rubbish. ‘Outline the argument that rubbish is not worthless’. Really, really dull.

I found this essay a challenge to complete, to the point that I have seriously considered pulling the plug on the OU study altogether. But I did persevere  and got it done, and received a slightly improved mark than I did for my first essay.

The main area I fell down on in terms of losing marks, was my essay plan. There are three parts to a TMA and you lose points if you fail to complete any one of them. The main part is obviously the essay itself, and the other two parts are an essay plan and a reflection.

This essay was requird to be in the region of 1250 words, while the reflection was 50 words but there was no set word limit for the essay plan, and although the essay booklet did give guidelines, it wasn’t specific about what was required. I assumed that the purpose was to show clear thinking about your plan for the essay but that the plan was basically for the student’s benefit. Apparently not. I was marked down because I didn’t waffle at length about what I was intending to put in the essay, and why, or include all the references that I was intending to put in the essay. Irritating to say the least.

Ugh. I hope this gets better because I am not very enthused altogether. The mark I got actually was not bad at all. It’s just the pernikety, trivial nonsense of the game of academia that really gets my blood boiling, and it makes me wonder why I’m doing it at all.

Jag har haft fullt upp!

It has all fallen apart a bit. I tend to do this. I tend to take on so much that I burn out and end up not finishing anything. (Sigh) The title is a Swedish phrase, which means roughly ‘I have had a full schedule’, or ‘I’ve been super-busy’! 🙂

I have picked up a dozen or more books and started them, but not finished them. In fact, I took a bunch of half-read books back to the library yesterday. I’m trying not to kick myself about the Read52 challenge. I don’t think I could catch up now, unless I get credit for good intentions!

I’m also so far behind in the Bible in 90 Days challenge this time that I really have no hope (or intention, sorry) of catching up. I also got to the end of Job just feeling that I was getting very little out of it this time round. Last year I read through faithfully every day, and marked all the words of God in red, and anything else important (like repetition and themes) in blue, and I really loved it. I saw new things in it and I’m really glad I did it. But this time, I had already switched to listening on audio Bible by the time I got to Joshua instead of actually reading it, as I was finding it so… boring! I really don’t want to feel that way about Bible reading.

So actually I’m juggling. I have a lot of plates to spin – being a wife and ‘mum’ with ME, homeschooling, housework, study, and trying to set up a Ministry / Business. I have never managed to find a great balance between homeschooling and housework – when the children were young, I figured that if I managed to get out of bed and the children were basically washed and fed and clothed and happy, everything else could look after itself.

I have been wondering why I decided to take on the extra spinning plates of study and business. Maybe a psychoanalyst is called for – do I have some need to set myself up to fail? Actually, I think I’m pretty driven, perhaps I need to prove myself in some way (I’m not sure to whom though or why). But being driven and fighting ME is a pretty tough battle. Actually I have heard that there’s quite a bit of evidence that a lot of people who get ME are A-type personalities (I tried to look for a good article to link to but I couldn’t find one).

I have never quite learned to pace myself either. I always seem to need to start something new, take on a little bit more, work a little bit harder. I help out at Scouts and Guides in a limited capacity, I teach (Sunday School, very basic Hebrew, adult Bible Study, although actually I haven’t done any classes since we moved down here as there doesn’t seem to be any interest), I’m now involved with two churches, I study (and now I ‘have’ to be studying my OU course, just about everything else looks more interesting which is another challenge! I’m even trying to learn Cornish in my ‘spare time’!)

I constantly feel on the edge of relapse, but resting doesn’t help anyway. I figure that, if I’m going to feel desperately tired and in pain whether I rest or get on with it anyway, I might as well just get on with it. Thankfully my ME is not severe (although I have had a few bad patches, and poor husband always seems me at my worst as I’m always pretty wrecked by the end of the day). I still don’t want to accept that it is ME to be quite honest. I would much rather have something that’s easily fixable, curable. But I don’t go to the GP anymore. My current one is nicer and more helpful than previous ones, but he’s no help really. When the blood-tests always come back negative or ‘borderline’ there’s no clear direction on how to treat me. So until and unless I can’t, I keep on keeping on. I keep picking up books and starting them. I keep trying to read my Bible. I keep studying and writing and doing my little groups. The children are washed and clothed and fed and reasonably happy. That sounds like a good life to me 🙂

Read52 Fail?

I may be officially failing my read52 challenge – I haven’t read anything for the last couple of weeks, unless I’m allowed to include the Bible (although actually I’m also about 3 days behind in my B90Days challenge as well – will be trying to catch up tomorrow), and also my OU textbooks – I’ve completed the first Learning Companion and started the second, and I’ve started the first main textbook.

So I’m busy and I am reading, but it’s less intentional than I’d like. I have a huge, I mean ginormously humungously huge pile of books I’d like to read (ten years of compulsive book-buying without a matchingly voracious reading appetite will do that to you) but I’m not managing to get round to it. So I think I need to get a bit more organised and plan out what I’ll read over the next few weeks.

I have unpacked the last few boxes of books after moving house now, so the house looks a bit like an explosion at a book factory, so I think tomorrow will involve sorting them out a little bit. I’ll come back to you with potential titles 🙂

DD101 Week 4

My first TMA is finished and posted! It was a horrible question: ‘Drawing on what you have learned… Outline how some benefit and others lose on a street that you know.’

I really thought I would struggle to write anything, but once I got going, I found it difficult to stop! The word limit was only 750 words, so it turned out more of a challenge to cover everything I wanted within that limit.

References were another challenge. I have done some academic study before (in a previous life, as it were), but it has been a while since I had to think about including references. I think I included two or three, and it necessitated reviewing the materials again, since I hadn’t written my notes in such a way that I’d be able to identify the page or dvd scene that the information was coming from.

I’ve also been to two tutorials now. It’s a long way to go, so I was less than keen but in fact they have been quite helpful and stimulating – especially the most recent one (part of that might have been that it was a smaller group than last time, and we were close together on one big table rather than spread round the room).

I’m enjoying the audio / visual materials but I’m finding it challenging to have enough quiet time to concentrate on the reading materials.

There are also some online activities this week. The previous online activities were pretty easy, but I haven’t looked at this week’s yet. I do have this nagging doubt that it’s all going to get much harder from now on.

The next TMA – TMA02, which is due at the end of March, is on the subject of ‘Rubbish’, so the plan is to read the coming weeks’ materials with that in mind.

Is anybody else studying DD101? How are you finding it? I would love to connect with you 🙂