How I like to learn and why I blog
All posts for the month of July will be from California, so all the pictures I include are probably random but cool (at least in my eyes) pictures that I took while here.
I have several reasons for being a MOT student blogger. Some reasons are more selfish than others. It helps me keep track of what I am doing, it helps me reflect about what I am doing, it allows me to be part of an OT network with other therapists and students, and it hopefully allows future or current students to see what different programs are doing, and that we are all experiencing similar hopes and doubts. I know that my favorite things to read on other OT-related blogs are the more personal accounts of experiences in the clinical OT world, because that’s what will eventually be doing. Merrolee pointed out to me another blog post by “OT Otago” (see sidebar), where the author said she would be interested to know what kind of things help students learn or get them excited. By the way, I’d like to know what gets teachers excited!!!
I think that for me personally, since everybody learns differently, I enjoy being taught something, and then interacting in some manner that uses that new knowledge, immediately. Whether that’s through a quick quiz, or just discussing it, I just like immediate interaction. I also really enjoy getting to go over case studies, although it seems we’re always left hanging as to the best or final answer. I also wish we could use more creativity in learning. Like writing up our own case studies for other students to analyze, or for example, learning about a diagnosis, and then writing a short story where we imagine how it would feel if we were the ones with that diagnosis. The more personal the information is, the more likely we are to retain it.
Let’s say, to use something I just became aware of, that we learned about focal dystonia one day. Ok, that’s fine. I’ll memorize the basics and regurgitate it on a test and get an A. But a week later, I’ll forget what it was, because it didn’t mean anything to me besides rote memorization. But now let’s say the professor says, “think of the kinds of jobs that would be affected by this diagnosis. Now let’s say you are a pianist. What then? How would you feel? What would you do? Go home and research this focal dystonia further, and how it would relate to a pianist on physical, emotional, social, cultural, and economic levels.”
THAT would help it stick. Luckily, many of my current professors are pretty good about incorporating personal learning or some creativity into their classes, so that helps.
One project I fondly remember was in my undergrad abnormal psychology course, we had to diagnose a cartoon or TV character with a certain DSM-IV diagnosis, then present on why we gave that person that diagnosis, using evidence from things the person has said/done. My partner and I diagnosed Karen Walker, from Will & Grace, with antisocial personality disorder. She also had major problems with substance abuse. Someone else diagnosed Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes with ADHD. And so on. It was fun and memorable.
Now of course, I could just go home and do these personally-enriching, creativity-enhancing things on my own, but realistically, I’m so busy while in school that I’m probably not going to go the extra mile to do that. In conclusion though, what makes me tick is when we not only get to learn something, but immediately apply it. Preferably creatively, although that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Overall though, my OT program and classes are pretty fascinating.