Am I really learning anything?

I can never really tell if I’m learning anything when a class is based solely on theory and not practicality. Take my class Understanding Information. For someone who is interested in Children’s and Youth Resource Services, this class is dreadfully boring and seems irrelevant in most cases. Now, this could just be me, but I don’t feel like I’m learning anything. At the same time, though, I felt the exact same way with Journalism when I became the print editor of my university’s newspaper. I didn’t feel qualified or like I had this cache of knowledge that I could utilize. However, as my time as the editor progressed, and I had to make decisions about copy and answering questions from the writers, I began to realize that I had the knowledge I needed to do my job effectively.

So when does knowledge occur? Sounds like an odd question, but does anyone ever feel qualified after a class on a certain topic? At what point can you say that you are knowledgeable in any specific subject? Or, does learning a plethora of facts that can be regurgitated at any given point, make you more knowledgeable than someone else, or does that just make you a robot?

Going back to Understanding Information, the class itself has no visible outline. I can’t see what the outcome of this class is supposed to be, what is the goal and what am I supposed to come away with? What good is a general understanding of information if I can’t apply it to anything? Most likely, several years down the road in a staff meeting at the library I’m working at, something I learned in this class will become relevant, but at the moment… not so much.

This makes me think about standardized testing as well. I was never good at taking tests, and I couldn’t figure out how my score on the ACT translated to how well I would do in college and how much money they decided to give me in scholarships. Thankfully, Pitt didn’t believe that how well I did on the GRE would translate to how well I would do in grad school, because the math section slaughtered me. We put so much emphasis on testing and the results of those tests, that we forget that those tests only represent one aspect of the test taker.

Now, it’s important to do well in school and to always be learning and stretching your mind, but at what point did it become okay to assume that a test holds this much importance.

You can wear socks with stilettos and 24 other things I learned from Vogue.

My roommate gets Vogue magazine and I decided to flip through it. Here a some things that Vogue has taught me.

  1. It’s okay to only wear one earring.
  2. Flyaway hairs are also okay.
  3. Expensive perfume give me headaches.
  4. The vampire gaunt look is IN. (8
  5. The hot model pose is to look dead, but actresses who are modelling always get to look pretty.
  6. To be a model you have to be okay with unattractive photos of yourself in high-end magazines, but if you’re an actress, you’ll be fine.
  7. 90s grunge is back.
  8. In order to appeal with the less affluent crowd, there was one ad for Target clothes.
  9. Plaid is back.
  10. Heavy coats are meant to be worn without pants.
  11. The 40s are back.
  12. The 70s clothing and hairstyles are back.
  13. Over-sized jackets and heavy knit sweaters are back… hello 90s.
  14. The 50s are back.
  15. Emma Stone is really pretty.
  16. You can mix several extremely bold prints and be a-okay.
  17. Downy’ ad was very domestic. Cue the 1950s homemaker (there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s ironic because people usually get mad about ads or commercials that give any hint that women should stay at home).
  18. Stop plucking your eyebrows people because untamed ones are in.
  19. 60s hairstyles are back.
  20. The only food ad was a Crystal Light one…
  21. Smiling is so last year.
  22. GUYS! IT’S OKAY TO WEAR SOCKS WITH HEALS! There were three ads that showcased the style.
  23. You must NEVER show emotion if you want to be featured in a spread in Vogue.
  24. Being a housewife is in only if you wear an extremely expensive princess dress while cooking.
  25. To have a successful magazine, the ads must comprise of 70 percent of the content… who care about anything else?

Almost two-months in

Well, grad school is now well under way and I completely understand the advice that was given during orientation. Grad school will make you feel like you know absolutely nothing. I completely believe that now. Half of what I’ve been learning, I’ve never been exposed to before. This is mostly in our core classes and to be completely honest, I don’t really find a lot of it interesting. Some of this has made me question if I’m really in the right place. Before school started, I was so excited to become a librarian, and I still am, but it has been a major learning curve.

I want to be a children’s or young adult librarian in a public library. The core classes at my school tend to be more focused on Academic librarianship and Archiving. This isn’t bad, but it isn’t very relevant for me. Obviously, there are parts of those classes that are very relevant, but they’re snippets. Also, these two classes are overly general and slightly disorganized, which doesn’t help much.

Thankfully, I have two classes that are a part of my specialization. Sometimes I feel as if  I don’t have much to contribute to them, but I have been soaking up so much good information. It really reminds me of when I fell into my undergrad degree and really had no idea what to expect. I really knew nothing about public relations and journalism, but I learned and I excelled at it.

I think the biggest challenge is that the focus of my classes tend to be very theoretical. I’m more of a practical learner. Things make more sense once I’ve been able to put them into practice. Hopefully I will be able to get a job or volunteer work that will allow me to do this. Overall, I love being here in Pittsburgh. I love the city and the people I’m getting to know. I knew that grad school would be challenging, but I also knew that I wouldn’t understand how challenging until I got into it.

Please know that this is not me saying that I’m discouraged, though sometimes it feels that way, this is just an update on my adventure into grad school. I’ve come to learn that it’s okay to feel discouraged some times or admit that things aren’t all rainbows, but also that those times don’t last forever.

Observations about the Circus

I don’t get political. I hate politics. They are divisive and cause people to be mean. Perhaps that simple language, but I prefer simple to complex. I am an independent. The reasons are fairly simple, I don’t fully agree with either party so I don’t feel comfortable claiming either. And yes I do happen to lean to one side more so than the other, but when I read the news or hear something on the radio, I just get mad. I get pissed off at both parties and everything.

I know that politics are important and I know that they are necessary, but seriously Congress, stop acting like arrogant elitists. This government shutdown is not some victory. 800,000 people are out of work and while you may call them nonessential, many of the services that have been shutdown were essential to many Americans in this country. I couldn’t do homework for graduate school (which I am paying for, by the way) because of you.

Many would say that I should just be blaming the Republicans, or the Democrats, or the President, but I disagree. I am blaming all of them. They are ALL playing the stubborn child. They are ALL causing this damage. NONE of them seem to care about us. For all the Liberals and Conservatives out there. They don’t care about us. They care about their jobs and their agendas, but they don’t give a crap about us.

Maybe some of them do. Maybe some of them are really pulling for us, so we need to let them know that they need to be louder. I’ve come to the conclusion that both parties are extremely radicalized. It’s unfortunate, but it’s so hard for those who are not so extreme to get a word in. I have a secret for you: most republicans are not like the ones in Congress and most democrats are not like the ones in Congress. I think it’s safe to say that most of the American population is simply fed up by all of this.

I am and I hate it all. Some people will disagree with me and some people will get very mad and condescendingly try to correct my views which is why I haven’t actually mentioned my personal views on the Affordable Care Act or the whole budget mess. These are my observations about the whole situation. Please be kind in responding, I will delete your comment if it is not.