Published on February 24, 2011

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This reading week, I am trying to complete all the coursework I have left for the semester, so I can focus on completing my degree with excellence, joy, and sanity.  As this is quite an overwhelming task, I have been doing a lot of stressing, but also thinking about what life will be like after I no longer have scholastic deadlines and busywork to attend to.  Unlike many grad students, the bulk of my work is NOT writing…. it is singing.  Singing is what I do best.

It is a mystery to me why the education system is the way it is.  For me, and for many students I have come into contact with, the moment I am assigned a writing assignment on a certain topic, I begin to detest the topic.  For 17 years of elementary school, high school, and undergraduate studies, I diligently completed tasks that I did not particularly care about.  I tried different tactics to make myself want to complete these assignments – play the outside edge of the assignment (ie write something that you think you can still get marks for, but is no longer really the assignment); become passionate about the subject through own reading and research; procrastinate and complain until the night before, and then write a really horrible assignment.

Then, I hit grad school.  There is this really beautiful concept in grad school called a Seminar.  In the seminars I took part in, there were almost no assignments – only a research project to do.  And, better yet – there were no exams or tests!  Finally, I could go to class and focus whole-heartedly on the material, instead of viewing the material through the filter of ‘What do I have to know for the exam?’.  Suddenly, I was learning!  And, best of all, I was becoming passionate about a subject that I had previously known nothing about through an official university sanctioned activity – going to class!

The structure of education, in my opinion, should change.  While I don’t have an immediate solution, I do know that change is incredibly difficult in any institution.  So, from a student who has profited from a somewhat atypical learning situation to the powers that be reading this blog: I challenge you to embrace change, rather than allowing fear to stop it.

Originally posted on McGill’s GradLife Blog.

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To answer the question: “Do you still sing?”

I have learned that there is a difference between my physical voice, and my voice in the broader sense. I have mastered my physical voice – all the nuances, the breaking points; learned the ways my voice likes to move and blossom. There is freedom and joy in the practise of using my voice in that way on stage. But I needed something more.

Vulnerability Magic: One Year Sober

Inspired by a little silver plastic chip in my pocket that said “Women in Recovery” on one side and the serenity prayer on the other (and my phone full of new numbers), I found a desire within me that I hadn’t even known I wanted until I stepped into that meeting. I wanted myself back.