I am taking an Environmental Ethics class this semester - it's a Philosophy class. (groan) I have discovered that Philosophy is very much like math and languages. They are all logical, linear subjects. I am not linear at all. I'm more randomly spatially concrete (as opposed to random), though at times, my random musings are anything but concrete - but, I digress.
On my path to greatness, I have discovered that one is either a words (expressive) or a numbers (logical) person. I am definitely words. Words are expressive and can be used like watercolors - splashed all over the place to make a beautiful masterpiece. I have talked to several mathematicians who have argued that logic makes sense and that numbers can be used to define, interpret, calculate, model, etc. anything in the known (and unknown) universe. Math is THE universal language. Hmmm.
I still don't get it - math, logic, etc. I am so NOT logical, numerical, rational. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water where I work - the Math Department at UT. That has more to do with my learning style than it does with my being a nontrad. Which brings me to the point of this post - do you know your learning style? I would hope by this point in your nontrad life, you would have some clue. However, if not, there is a fabulous book out there entitled, "The Way They Learn" by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. It may be out of print, but I'm sure one can find it at a used book store. Tobias not only covers the three basic learning styles - auditory, visual and tactile - but she adds several more layers. Whew! It's a fascinating and enlightening read.
If you feel like you don't get it - math, history, philosophy, etc. - don't fault being a nontrad. Instead, fault your learning style. I'll say some more about how to work with the different learning styles later (when I find out where the book went in all the boxes I packed from my recent move). In the meantime, know that you are not alone if you don't get it. Try these tips:
1. Go visit the prof during office hours or send him/her an email and ask him/her to explain (in 50 words or less) what you are having trouble with.
2. Form a study group and learn from your peers. Someone else in the group may be having the same problem you are and may also benefit from the group experience.
3. Use the campus resources - math tutorial center, writing lab, language lab, etc.
You can do it! It took me 31 years to get my Bachelor's degree and it wasn't always an easy road. Hang in there and come back to visit often! Stay tuned . . .