Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Have Just Been Empowered

patterns in ice
Putting my experiences in the PASS Program into words is becoming a work in progress. At first, I expected most of my posts would be diary entries, rather like those of my great, great, great maternal granduncle who was a circuit-riding Methodist preacher in the 1850s. Imagine the delight my ministerial self felt at discovering the daily grind to be more akin to revelation than mere reporting.
Of course, that's what makes it so difficult to verbalize, which explains why anytime you ask a question of a theologian, hoping for a multiple-choice type answer, you're likely to get the equivalent of an essay. The nature of the subject matter renders a yes-no response too simplistic to be meaningful. By the way, this is also a good reason to question any minister who presumes s/he can unveil the mysteries of the universe in three easy-to-follow steps.

Which brings me back to my original problem, namely, making sense of my experience here and why it is turning into a work in progress. If they were teaching a method, you ought to be able to order the CD and workbook for only $19.95 plus shipping and handling. But that's not what this place is about. We're learning how to think and that's a different animal altogether.

One of the things I'd hoped to do in my posts was discuss how it feels, being an older student, in an environment like this. Age, however, isn't a factor at all. While, as usual, I'm probably the oldest student here, as far as my driver's license is concerned, there are several others who've been around the block as well. Most are in their 20s and 30s, but our intention isn't to determine who's qualified to be a doctor by virtue of their age, gender, or social standing, but to gain whatever is necessary to pass board exams.

That said, we're all in a position of having to unlearn one way of dealing with the material and learning what I feel safe calling an entirely new one. In the process of delving into such organ systems as cardiology and neurology, students typically attempt to commit massive lists of diseases, signs, and symptoms to memory. The "time-honored tradition" of downloading information only to reproduce it for an exam -- called binge and purge learning -- becomes your default position until you've found a framework that fosters integration and the discernment of patterns.

For someone who has made his way through history and theology looking for connections, being shown how and then urged to apply that same inclination to medicine, is a radical departure from anything I might have expected. It's value, I think, lies not only in the way it promotes learning, but in the ways it builds upon strengths one already possesses. In other words, it's empowering, and that is something we all need no matter who, or how "young," (smile) we are.

(Public Domain image of Patterns in Ice via Wikipedia)

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