Learning is Hard

'D' is also for Defiled
Creative Commons License photo credit: flickrich

It is almost a year since the last Harry Potter book was released and equally as long that I have been trying to read it. I am about half way through. I know it is a long book, but at this rate, it will take me 2 years to read it. I am okay with that, only I have also not been able to read technical books, which are usually much easier. The timing is very bad because I am taking classes now.

Recap of uncooperative brain cycle: I get too busy, my brain shuts down, I end up not being able to do anything, things get bad, I stop doing so many things, I feel better, I start doing more things. I get too busy. Repeat. Forever.

When I started feeling better after cat scratch fever, things were great. Felt better than I have in longer than I can remember. Meds are working ok, I am not weak and tired, I can work, I can do karate, leave the house, etc. Great time to take classes! Only problem is that I can not read. Crap.

School has been very hard. Some of the assignments are easy because it is stuff I already know (PHP, MySQL, JavaScript) and use every day, but some of it is brand new. In order to learn the new things, I have to do a lot of reading. This is very bad.

I have been able to learn some of the new information by watching screencasts. I LOVE screencasts! Screencasts are videos of someone’s computer screen with audio explaining what they are doing. These are magical for me.

I have never been able to learn things in the traditional ways — lectures and textbooks. Either I have sucked information in without even trying or I learned by trial, error, and/or repetition. Luckily, sucking in information worked until my second year of college. College is when I learned exactly how impossible it is for me to learn in a traditional setting.

Some reasons for the impossibility of learning are:

  1. Can not sit still for the entire length of a class. Will fidget with increasing intensity until I have to leave the room.
  2. Can not concentrate on what is being said. Words turn into gibberish. White noise behind the clamor inside my brain. This makes note taking impossible as well.
  3. Can not read required reading. Can occasionally get enough information from pictures, diagrams, examples, and captions to get by.
  4. Get overwhelmed when too much is going on. Taking more than one class, taking classes and working, being in crowded classrooms, etc.

I do not know what to do now. I am taking two classes and loving them, but I am not sure I will be able to finish them because I can not read and am having a hard time thinking in general. Too many things are going on. I have lots of work to do and we have a steady stream of visitors all summer. My work is not getting done as quickly as it should because of school. Often, I end up trying to do either thing and end up not being able to think well enough to do anything.

At least there is no reading required for karate! That has been just as fun as ever 🙂

3 thoughts on “Learning is Hard”

  1. I came by on a whim from Kev Leitch’s blog; it is my first visit here, so I know nothing about you.

    (Correction: read your about page, so know what you’ve written there.)

    I admire your self-knowledge — of your limitations, what works, what doesn’t.

    About reading: have you ever tried recorded books? My daughter is dyslexic and finds listening and reading at the same time improves her comprehension (for some things).

    Libraries have a lot of popular literature on tape or CD. You could try it out, and if it works for you, you could try to get a device from Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.

    I have another friend who uses the Kurzweil reader. Some schools and universities have Kurzweil machines available for students. Here’s the Kurzweil site:


    I’m across the Bay in Redwood City.

    Stay cool today.

  2. Thanks Liz 🙂 I have tried recorded books and it was definitely easier than reading. I ended up listening to the last Harry Potter book after giving up on trying to read it after half a year.

    I never tried reading and listening to a book at the same time. Sounds kind of confusing, but it works when I do it in the opposite direction. When I can’t pay attention to TV, I sometimes turn on subtitles and can understand more with the combination of written words and sound.

    Thanks for the link to the reader. It reminded me that my mac will actually read things to me if I ask it too. I totally forgot about that! I will try it for this week’s school reading 🙂

    I hope you stay cool today too. It will be even hotter in Redwood City than it is here!


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