|Behind the colors, behold, the madness of learning!|
One of my issues when I study a subject, whether it is critical theory or Anime, is that I have a frustrating amount of false starts; I make a plan, believe it to be conducive toward learning, only to find out that it is more ambitious than I am prepared to handle.
And so it was with my medieval research.
You see, what I had originally intended was to spend weekday mornings, the time I had allotted for my research, divided between engaging with Old English the language, and general Anglo-Saxon history. This would be done through the Mark Atherton's 'Teach Yourself' guide and John Blair's 'Very Short Introduction.' One chapter each, essentially; after a careful read through accompanied by annotations, and a daily dedication spread out over a hefty temporal period, I figured that I would have something to 'take to the (academic) bank.' Mastery, after all, only comes to those who practice.
I now realize that this outline of my work is too integrated. It is slowing down my learning to an difficult degree, making education difficult, to say the least. So, I have shifted my focus: I will now be dividing my research time into days where I focus exclusively on Old English, the language, and days where I wholly concentrate on the history, culture, and literature and art of the period. Since I am researching on weekdays, with weekends reserved for other intellectual engagements, this gives two days to each aspect of my research-- Old English and history-- while reserving the fifth day (Friday) as a review day.
I think this is what I should have done all along. I tend to overestimate what I can do in a single day, so it is unremarkable that I pin up these grandiose labors as a typical function. But, the point is that I caught the errors in practice and am now rectifying the process so as to avoid burning out. I fancy that segmenting my research this way will speed up what I learn and enable a more efficient process of encoding.
With days spent honing in on a single area, I no longer need to perform the academic equivalent of a balancing act. Though this new division of labor also isolates that feeling of joy when something from language learning carries over, in the same study session, to the history which concerns the word's usage in society (such as, when you learn the pronunciation and definitions and then see how that sign was utilized in history, as a function of civil defense or culture), I think being able to do more faster is more than enough of a payoff: I'm still learning all the same concepts, just in a slightly altered articulation.