Following instructions

You know me. You know that I’m the first to question what I hear. But in certain circumstances, you just bloody well do as you’re told.

I’ve been studying through OUA for a couple of years now, and in conversations with fellow students I’m always a bit surprised at the questions asked or the problems experienced; the huge marjority of these have been addressed in the course information or somewhere else easily accessible, but many people don’t seem to have familiarised themselves with this information.

Currently I’m doing Introductory Spanish. Very introductory. It is for absolute beginners, and the unit information tells you that if you already know any Spanish, you should contact the university to discuss whether this course is for you, or a more advanced course. But still, in Introductory Spanish, we’ve ended up with a bunch of people who have lived in Spain, studied Spanish, or have Spanish-speaking family members, and they complain that the course is so basic and they have trouble limiting themselves to the vocabulary in the textbook! Not only is this course not helpful (and even frustrating) for them; their superior knowledge of Spanish can be annoying and intimidating to the rest of us communicating with them, more often than it is helpful. They shouldn’t be in this course.

Then we’ve got a bunch of people who haven’t got the textbook yet. We’re three weeks into the unit. Textbook information has been available for months. Seriously. A long time. You can’t do this unit without the textbook, it just doesn’t make sense. Organise yourself! Get ready! Have the materials you need by the time you know you’re going to need them.

Then you’ve got people who apparently simply can’t read. When you log into the unit on the website, in big text right up the top it says, ‘This unit is optimised for Firefox; DO NOT USE CHROME.’ So tell me why I’ve just been reading somebody’s complaints about the quiz not working in Chrome and how they’ve probably failed it?

I just get so frustrated at people sometimes. All the information needed is there, and people just ignore it. And this is university; presumably they’re not doing this because they want to fail. If you want to pass, you need to know what you’re doing, or what you’re meant to be doing. I think possibly the most frustrating thing is that I end up answering so many questions, and I feel like I’m coming across as a smug smarty-pants. I ONLY KNOW THE ANSWERS BECAUSE I READ THE COURSE MATERIAL THAT IS AVAILABLE TO YOU TOO!!! I am not magically more knowledgeable; I just did my fucking research.

Skulls

The skull of ‘Lucy’
(Australopithecus)

Quite some time ago, possibly over a year ago, we took Elspeth to the Melbourne Zoo. On display near the elephants is an elephant skull. Upon seeing it, she was first slightly nervous, and then overcame that to become quite interested. Ever since then, she’s had something of an obsession with skulls.

She asks to look at pictures of skulls – she will specify an animal – and she will point out to people, ‘You have a skull in your head!’

Recently, as part of my university studies (Human Evolution & Diversity), I was looking at some pictures of skulls of various ancient hominid species including the famous ‘Lucy’. Elspeth was on my lap. I scrolled past the pictures to read the text at the bottom of the page, and she began protesting:

‘Go back so I can see the skulls! They’re beautiful pictures. I like skulls.’

I think I’ve created a future paleoanthropologist!

I’m thrilled with the things she takes an interest in. I can see how skulls might seem a bit morbid, but they’re fascinating really. The amount you can tell about an animal just from its skull is almost unbelievable.

For instance, from the position of the spot where the spine joins the head, you can tell whether an animal is bipedal or quadrupedal. From patterns of wear on the teeth you can tell what it ate and what else it used its teeth for; for instance, Eskimos and Neandertals both use(d) their teeth to soften hides so they could be worked into boots.

I hope Elspeth keeps her curiosity and fascination with all sorts of interesting and bizarre things. There is so much to know about so many things!

Including skulls.

Awesome husband is awesome

Last week was exam week for the Fall of the Roman Republic. With Open Universities, a non-invigilated exam will be open, the questions available, for several days or a week, and you submit your answers in a Word document by the due date.

Last week was also the week that Aidan returned to work after a five week break.

Despite needing to work, being sick, and wanting to do his own study (Aidan’s just starting with Open Uni too), he was willing and able to take the kids out a few times and give me plenty of time to get my exam done, distraction-free. I am so grateful; I would never have gotten the thing done if I’d had the kids underfoot the whole time. Aidan’s help and support is, as always, invaluable.

So it’s all done, submitted, and now I move on to my next subject: Human Evolution and Diversity.