I’m deep into Lesson 2 of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine Distance Learning Program, and I think I’m finally getting to a point where I know how to make the most of it. Like starting anything new, taking on a distance learning course means finding your groove and learning to make every study time really count, especially without the usual structure of classroom, peers, and teacher before you. My perceptions of study have changed so drastically since my school days (thank God!) and, although I doubt going to school without a grading system would have benefitted me in, say, high school, I’m finding it’s doing me a world of good as an adult.
Since becoming an herbalist isn’t something you get certification from the government to practice, I know that when I do practice on a professional level, I won’t be able to point to a framed document over my desk as a way of proving myself. No, I can only prove myself as an herbalist by really knowing what I’m talking about. Going through the SWSBM course is more than just making it through hours of DVD’s and filling in the quiz blanks. I actually have to remember what I’ve learned, and that’s a lot!
The quizzes that come with each box of lessons (12 lesson boxes in all) are not to test you on what you learned, but to help guide you as you watch the DVD’s. These questions are ways of saying, “Hey, you gotta know this one!” So after receiving my Lesson 1 quiz corrections back, (yes, I missed some – more challenging to find the answers than it sounds!) I decided to make up some flash cards. It’s very important to me to commit things to memory. Anytime I feel the slightest bit of resistance to memorizing something, I imagine my future self talking to someone about herbs, someone who needs help. And in this little image, I picture myself having the answers because I took the time “way back when” while studying to fully understand what Michael Moore was striving to get across in those hours of DVD’s. Suddenly I’m filled with the willpower to absorb every bit of herbal, physiological, anatomical, and botanical knowledge I can grab. Sponge-like.
So now my focus is on gathering information and making it stick, rather than how many questions I get correctly or “making the grade”. Because the only grading system I’m up against is my conscience and the image of the people I may have the honor of helping in the future.