Class After Class

Class After Class

It’s Friday and you’ve just finished and turned in your last problem set for the week, your classes are through for the day, and it’s a beautiful day outside. There isn’t much out there that would be better than taking a walk in the park, maybe running up to the top of East Rock, and grabbing a beer with some other foresters, right? What if I were to tell you that instead, a lot of people end up going to another class? One that doesn’t even count for credit, but instead you just take for “fun”?

Sounds improbable, right? The last thing anyone wants to do on a Friday afternoon is take their few free hours during the week to sit in another class.

Turns out, though, many of us here at F&ES have been known to do just that; bettering ourselves by learning or touching up on forgotten and unpracticed skills that are imperative for professionals in any field today.

These classes, called Technical Skills Modules, are taught by professionals and experts in their given field(s) and brought to F&ES by students who feel they would benefit from learning a specific skillset. Historically these classes have ranged from workshops in Excel to floral arranging, and anything in between.

A few Fridays ago, I attended a module on speed-reading, a necessary skill for students who are bogged down with loads of papers, articles, and textbooks for class. The course was taught by Abby Beale, a teacher and author who has published two books on the subject, and tours the country giving lectures to students and professionals alike.

In the three-hour course, Beale explained the problems and challenges we face as students who really only had formal reading instruction up to the second or third grades. She helped us find strategies for getting through dense material while still understanding and remembering the core ideas, details, and themes of different readings.  She discussed the differences between reading on-paper versus on-screen, and taught us how to cater our reading styles for each.

Overall, the module taught me a lot about my own reading style and helped me find ways to become a faster and more engaged reader. It’s, of course, a skill that will take some time to get good at, but now that I know the strategies to make myself a better reader, I can put them into practice, and make myself a better student, and later a better employee.