Monday, October 29, 2012

My Quest

In the spirit of TJEd's 'Inspire Not Require' and 'You, Not Them', I've written an essay for my English 121 students at Ashford University following the same criteria they do for their first assignments (draft and final). This doesn't totally follow the APA formatting because it's a blog! But it's close. They have another draft and final essay later, but they're changing the course after this class, so I simply won't be that inspiring. =/

My Masters Quest
Verena Beckstrand
October 29, 2012

Over fifteen years ago I began pondering what I would do after I graduated from BYU in Humanities the next summer. I felt hungry to keep learning, but in a way that I could use to serve other people. Digging around the BYU Masters of Instructional Science caught my eye and by the fall of 1996 I was enrolled in the program. Just over a year later I was a newlywed and pregnant with my first child. Despite all of my efforts, I had to abandon the program. Ten years later I applied to the Masters of Education program at GWU in Cedar City. This time I never had the money to even start. I still really want to get a Masters of Education, but I must wait until I find the right program to fit my particular needs and interests in regards to Education, for the right time because I want to make sure I have done everything I can to prepare myself to make the most of my Masters program, and I need to have enough money and time to pay for tuition and complete the course work.
I love learning. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t looked at my teachers, whether they be school teachers, church teachers, seminar teachers or what have you, with a critical eye. Furthermore, I love to look outside the ‘box’ for solutions to learning experiences. I love my 5th grade teacher who pinned a dead fly to the ceiling for my classmate, who was forever dreamily looking at the ceiling, could have something to look at. My older sister started home schooling her children when I was in my early teens, and I have never looked back. I love having my children home with me, and I love teaching them; though admittedly I also love learning about learning through them almost as much as I love watching them learn. I must wait until I find a program that will help me learn about learning without all the requirements that a ‘box’ puts on learning.
I am constantly learning about education. I have the list of books from the GWU Masters of Education classes. I have read some of them, and I want to read more. I follow several blogs about education. Seth Godin has a lot of great things to say on his blog at . I also enjoy reading The Innovative Educator blog at, and the Thomas Jefferson Education blog at among several others. While in China I thought a lot about learning a language. I wrote down my thoughts and feelings not only while learning Chinese, which I knew almost nothing of before we went there, but also while teaching English to some children there. I am also pondering and researching my own theories of learning in a book I hope to write some day. So often I wish I could already have my Masters done. Sometimes I think that all of things I’m learning about education and all of the ideas I’m working on concerning learning would be easier if I already had my Masters of Education. But even though I hate waiting to have or even start my Masters of Education, I know that I will be better prepared to make the most of the opportunity when it does come.
The most frustrating and even boring reasons I have for not working on my Masters of Education is money and time. The economy has hit us about as hard as anyone in the past few years. We simply have too many basic necessities that we aren’t meeting for me to even consider adding tuition to the list of bills to pay. I really will hate sacrificing time with my family. Still, wouldn’t I be a much better home school mom if I already had my Masters? (NOT that I think every home school mom even needs any educational training. I think WAY too far out of the box for me to believe that a requirement.) I hope that I will not have to wait until all of my kids are raised and gone before I can get my Masters degree.
So I wait. I wait and I study and I serve my children as their partner in learning in the best way I know how. I know that someday I will find the right program to fit my particular needs and interests in regards to Education. Someday I will have done everything I can to prepare myself to make the most of my Masters program, and someday I really will have enough money and time to pay for tuition and complete the course work. After all, as my BYU Professor, the late Dr. Dillon Inouye said, “What is God, if he's not an Instructional Designer?”

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Journal Entry: Sunday, October 7th

          I feel numb and exhausted. I didn’t even want to sing during the rest hymns of General Conference today. I usually love singing the rest hymns. I still think I’m in denial, however, about how I’m feeling. … Guess I’d better quit trying to understand why I’m feeling this way and just face it and work through it. “The pressure of my life [are just] weighing me down,” as Lolly on The Weed said yesterday. I like what she has to say, and I like what a friend told her, “You know that you don’t have to earn God’s love. He doesn’t determine His love for you with a tally sheet of all your good deeds.” And the outcome of hearing her friend tell her that is also relieving to me: 
“It all comes down to my personal relationship with Heavenly Father. He loves me unconditionally and I love Him. I show my love for Him through my actions. I am obedient to His commandments and I serve His children in need. I do this not because I’m worried about what other people might think. Not because I’m trying to earn His love. I do what I do because I love Him. That, in and of itself, is enough to relieve my burdens.”
I’ve thought about Unconditional Love off and on through the years. I’m not sure that Mormons do such a great job of communicating it to others, the DUTY speaks so loudly sometimes. I wonder if the world doesn’t wonder about all of our Duties as Pollyanna did:
Pollyanna sighed now—she believed she was going to hate that word—duty. "Aunt Polly, please," she called wistfully, "isn't there ANY way you can be glad about all that—duty business?"
Duty has certainly been speaking very, very loudly to me lately, and it is a powerful force for action.

But maybe Love should speak louder.