Sherry-Go-Round: A unique learning experience
by Sherry Kughn
Jun 18, 2013 | 1719 views |  0 comments | 160 160 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I am taking my first online college course at Jacksonville State University, a surreal experience. I follow the directions of a teacher I may never see. I communicate with other students I may never meet. I hope that I am understanding the course requirements.

I worried the first day I read my assignments and maneuvered the software called “Blackboard.” I am accustomed to sitting in a class and listening to a teacher. What if I failed to follow the instructions properly and, what if I, gasp, failed the course? I spent a lot of money doing this. (Remember the young girl in the movie “Hook” who panicked when Captain Hook gave her an “F”? I was like her as a little girl and still am.)

After my initial response, I calmed down and remembered what has always been true regarding my educational pursuits: teachers want us to read thoroughly and write well. These two things I feel I can do.

My course is called Philosophy of Education. The rather elusive concepts I am studying would have scared me more had I not taken two other philosophy courses when I pursued a master’s degree in English in 2003. I can’t remember the first class’s title, but I understood little of what the professor said on the first day. He referred to concepts I had never heard before and used words such as “langue” and “parole.” I went to him after his lecture and told him I had made a mistake and should withdraw from class.

He reassured me that, in the remainder of the classes, he would explain the concepts he had presented to us. He followed through. I learned a great deal. I made an “A.”

I took another philosophy course before I graduated – Philosophy of Literature. The professor mainly talked about men from what I jokingly called, “The Dead Philosopher’s Society.” I had heard of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates in high school, but I had never heard of philosophers such as Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. (I could hardly say the names of these three.)

In that class, I had to memorize a lot of facts, most of which I have forgotten. I retained one thing, though: highly intelligent people write down deep thoughts that continue impacting people from generation to generation. It is magic that happens when words live beyond a person in that manner, which helps me remember why I like to write and teach – I can help others realize the importance of words.

In my new class I am learning the importance of self-motivation. Students who are procrastinators should stick with face-to-face classes. I am enjoying working from home, saving money on gasoline, and controlling my schedule. I am learning that all of those same philosophers who had things to say about literature have much to say about education.

Would you like to know what langue and parole are? The langue of our language is the structure of the formal way any language works. Parole is the way a particular group of individuals actually uses words, such as the way we Southerners say “okry,” “y’all,” and “look over yonder.” This is the philosophy of a Swiss man, the late Ferdinand de Saussure, who reminded us all that we do not have to fully understand our language to use it daily.

However, it is our job to use the words in our parole well -- to shape our future in a positive way and to impact others for good. When we do, we create magic with words, too, which is a nice philosophy everyone can understand.

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Sherry-Go-Round: A unique learning experience by Sherry Kughn

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