A realistic learning plan

After a lot of research, thought, and basically just trying to figure out what is realistic, I think I’ve finally come up with a learning plan that works for me.

The basic framework for the plan comes partially from Dorothy Sayers’ essay “The Lost Tools of Learning”, and partially from an adapted version of a plan for teaching the Trivium to home-schooled children, which can be found on the Trivium Pursuit web site.

Now, my plan comes with the caveat that I am not a home-schooled kid, being as I am 44 years old, and also that I have a full time day job that keeps me busy, plus life etc. So for some it may seem a little thin on the ground. But at the end of the day, this is not a “get smart quick” plan, there is no rush to finish studying, this is just another path for me to follow as part of my lifelong learning.

That said, I have plans for studying five nights out of seven, one subject per day, for 30-60 minutes each day as you’ll see below.

Mondays – Art
I’ll be starting by learning more about the Georgian painters like JMW Turner, Gainsborough and Constable, and learning about art theory through William Gilpin’s An Essay on Prints. Then I’ll move on to the early Victorians, and read a lot of John Ruskin‘s essays.

Tuesdays – Maths
Maths and I didn’t get along at all at school, so I will be starting from some very, very basic lessons here to get my head back in the game. Ironic as I am a statistician…moving on.

Wednesdays – History
I’m yet to choose an era here, but as there will be some Greeks and Romans in my reading list (see below), I may start there.  I also have a copy of Commentaries on the Gallic War by Julius Caesar coming to aid my Latin studies, so there will be a little bit of cross over there too. Side note, my copy was published in 1604, it’s been through it’s own wars and is missing the back cover, but it cost me less than $50. When it gets here it will be the oldest book I own.

Thursdays – Latin
I’m working my way through Gwynne’s Latin by Neville Gwynne, a fantastic little book with one of the best, and most logical approaches to learning Latin I’ve come across. Once I work my way through the basic chapters at the start I will aim to learn five new Latin words per week.

Fridays – Science
I’m leaning towards a course of study in botany, or permaculture. I was fond of science at school at it was something I wold have liked to pursue, with the benefit of hindsight.  I did very well in my final exams without really applying myself, but as you may know, it just takes one disengaged teacher to make someone lose interest. Now that I have my own little vegetable garden to maintain I would like to get back into botany and apply it to my own patch.

Fortnightly – composition
This is my homework period. Every two weeks on a Friday I will summarise the main points of what I have learned in the previous two weeks in a blog post here.  In addition to this, on a less regular basis, I’ll be researching and writing about some of the books in my collection.  These articles will appear in the new section of this site “The Life of Books”.

Finally, I have set myself a monthly reading list. This is where I can turn my mind to literature and work my way through some of the great books. The list I have set at the moment is 11 books long, this gives me a little wiggle room as some of them are quite heavy going. (TBD means ‘to be determined’)

October – A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
November – Wordsworth (selected poems)
December – Middlemarch – George Eliot
January – Inferno – Dante
February – TBD – Jane Austen
March – Paradise Lost – Milton
April – The Iliad – Homer
May – TBD
June – TBD – Shakespeare
July – Plutarch’s Lives
August – The Odyssey – Homer
September – John Donne (selected poems).

There are a few obvious things that you may think are missing from this list.  Things like “1984”,  “Catcher in the Rye”, and anything by Dostoevsky, and this is simply because I’ve already read them in the last few years. So my intention is not to revisit them at this point, but perhaps later once I’ve worked my way through this list and progressed in my Trivium a little more, I will look at them with fresh eyes.

Wish me luck!

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