So glad you asked! Like I mentioned in my first Herb School Update, I’ve looked at several distance learning programs for herbalism. The Southwest School of Botanical Medicine is almost entirely on DVD which appealed greatly to me. I wanted the classroom experience, I wanted to have someone hold up herbs and say, “Here’s the taproot on this one. And that’s what it looks like in full bloom. This is how we process it.” I also wanted something of a classroom experience, which I feel like I’m getting through the SWSBM courses.
I’m taking both of the SWSBM courses simultaneously, the best way to approach this system. The courses are “Materia Medica” and “Herbal Therapeutics and Constitutional Evaluation“. The first class installment came in a box that contains DVD’s for each course, a total of 12 DVD’s; a couple of booklets, and a CD containing massive amounts of research articles, charts, books etc. (kind of a bonus item if you will, and in my opinion quite valuable). Each DVD lasts somewhere around 2 hours, and while it’s recommended that you try to finish one of these boxes a month, you can go at your own pace as needed. I try to watch a DVD a day, alternating between the Materia Medica DVD’s and the Herbal Therapeutics ones.
As with any new venture, it took me a little while to get my rhythm going. My initial thought was since I would own the DVD’s forever, I could watch them whenever I wanted; hence note-taking seemed redundant. As more and more valuable information was discussed, I quickly changed my tune and now I have a Word document open next to the DVD screen so I can type up anything I may want to brush up on later. This is really helping get the massive doses of info to stick to my brain. And massive doses they are! So far I’ve been learning some basic physiology, chemistry, and of course herb identification and usage. I’m even working my way through a Physiology Coloring Book. (Laugh if you will, dear friends, but never in my life have I dealt with such complicated coloring! Quite a challenge but I love it.)
Teaching the physiology and chemistry basics is the very energetic Howie Brounstein who makes you want to jump headfirst into the subjects. (My three-year-old adores Howie and explained to a complete stranger yesterday how “Mommy watches a class and there’s a man with long hair and arms that do ‘this’ ” – picture gesticulating – “and has a long beard”.) And of course nothing compares to learning from the master himself, Michael Moore, who peppered all his teachings with fascinating anecdotes, fast-paced jokes, and more herbal info than you can shake a rain stick at.
So far I’m working hard and having the time of my life doing it. Even after a very long day of the usual work-at-home thing, the cooking, cleaning, mothering, and general chaos, I’ve still felt enthusiastic about popping in a DVD and learning something. I’ve had some tiring, hectic days that still end in feeling a little more complete about my direction. And if nothing else, I can sit down with my son, crack out the physiology coloring book, and show him what a phospholipid really looks like.