In my opinion the two highest callings are intellectual and scholar. A few of my friends qualify but those labels have appeared to be forever beyond my reach because of focus, fortitude, aptitude and/or my love for Scandinavian murder mysteries and NCIS.
It’s not for lack of hours in the classroom or number of essays written, tests taken, hours spent looking for parking that I haven’t made it into that esoteric realm. In fact, I could possibly be considered a perpetual student prototype. I have BS/MSW degrees from New Mexico State University and San Diego State University. I would have an MPA degree from University of New Mexico except for that pesky thesis I didn’t write. I have completed countless hours of study at Augsburg College, Bemidji State University and East Carolina University (My years as an Air Force wife account for some of the geographic mishmash.)
You will notice that there is not an elite/Ivy League school in the mix. My one graduate class in literature at the University of Minnesota where I wrote a lengthy and brilliant paper on Paul Theroux is probably the closest I’ve come to important academia.
NOW it seems there’s one last chance to immerse myself in the elitest, intellectual world of serious scholarship before advanced old age propels me into Bingo and Lawrence Welk. The MOOCs.
MOOCs are massive open on-line courses—not just any old on-line classes though. According to Time Magazine (via Wikipedia) “…free MOOCs open the door to ‘Ivy League for the masses.’” If that is true they in no way resemble the on-line classes one takes to renew a professional license which, it turns out, are nonsense exercises for simpletons, designed purely to raise big bucks for the commercial enterprises offering them.
MOOCs originate at some of the world’s elite universities and are delivered worldwide and FREE to us – the masses. My friend Bob who fits loosely or perfectly—he can say which—in those worlds to which I aspire turned me on to the possibility of study that doesn’t require a campus parking permit but does require serious reading and thinking.
More about MOOCs later this week after Bob and I have our first Thursday evening class discussion to prepare for next Sunday’s launch of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY’S “A HISTORY OF THE WORLD SINCE 1300” offered by Coursera, a MOOC delivery service.
I’ve signed up. I’m excited. And just a little scared. And intimidated.
Just in case my perpetual student tendencies seem excessive here’s the story of my obvious soulmate. You’ve surely heard it said that so-and-so has “dedicated his life to learning.” But it would be hard to find anyone more dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge than 71-year-old Michael Nicholson, who is currently working on his 30th college degree.
That breaks down to one bachelor’s degree, two associate’s degrees, 22 master’s degrees, three specialist degrees and one doctoral degree. Nicholson always goes to class, and his educational journey has taken him all over the United States and Canada. So how does he do it?
“I just stayed in school and took menial jobs to pay for the education and just made a point of getting more degrees and eventually I retired so that I could go full-time to school,” Nicholson told ABCNews.com.
His 30th degree will be a Masters in criminal justice.
“I would like to get to 33 or 34. I’m almost there,” he said. “When I complete that, I’ll feel like I’ve completed my basic education. After that, if I’m still alive — that would take me to 80 or 81 — I would then be free to pursue any type of degree.”
Among the other degrees Nicholson hopes to pursue is one in law.
Just what we need, another lawyer.