Back to school (one writer's education and a few good resources for lifelong learning)
My kids both started the new semester today. Of course, now that they're in college the first day of school thrill isn't quite what it used to be. Not sure they'd appreciate me showing up to videotape them marching in the front door. They're not here to pose for pictures with their shiny new lunch boxes. I did get a couple of text messages. ((sigh))
What is thrilling to me is that they're now beyond my highest level of education. I screwed up my opportunity to finish my degree when I was their age. I planned to go back to college the year my daughter started kindergarten but ended up going to chemo instead. A very different sort of education ensued. I don't recommend it, but I'd have to say it's served me well. Blasphemous as this may be, in my heart of hearts, I think a creative writing degree is the worst thing a person can do to prepare for a career as a writer. The best education for writers (in my humble opinion): a degree in anything else -- seriously, botany, poli sci, arc welding, anything -- plus the living of life and the reading of books.
One of my favorite things about my job is the built in continuing education. Every book, whether it's fiction or non-fiction, takes me on an amazing research journey. In the last 18 months, I've spent hundreds of hours exploring ancient Egyptian medical scrolls, Victorian surgeons, 1970s politics, 1950s television, capital punishment, the Texas prison system, primate behavior, spinal cord injuries, opera, theatre, pulp fiction, equestrian methods and facilities, Afghani agriculture, Hungarian art, the 1952 polio epidemic, Girl Scouting...and I went on a little side trip to Thornton Wilder just for the heck of it.
Learning is a limitless and decadent pleasure. It keeps us young (school-age!) and engaged with the world. Below are a few of the fascinating sites I've stumbled upon and gotten completely drawn into.
Read classics online at Project Gutenberg
Carnivorous plants at Black Jungle
50 famous trials from Socrates to OJ
Pulp fiction book cover post cards
The Edwin Smith Papyrus
Texas Death Row
Berlin history for travelers
Connected to the backbone