Thank goodness for flexible learning week.
University of Edinburgh students’ eyes will light up at the mention of the phrase. Flexible learning week is a mid-second-semester break in lectures for independent study. It’s a chance to catch up, do some further reading, or just catch your breath and recharge. And it’s very welcome.
I’ve used mine to revisit this semester’s lectures, in readiness for a linguistics assignment just around the corner. It’s allowed me to build a bit of confidence in my knowledge of the material without the panic of the next topic coming before I’ve had a chance to digest the last.
It got me thinking: couldn’t we all do with a flexible learning week now and again?
DIY Flexible Learning Week
If you have a language learning plan, chances are it’s an ongoing, cumulative thing. Effective language learning and maintenance is a regular habit, and we build it into our day-to-day. But building in pause for thought is a good mind-health strategy, as flexible learning week shows.
For those worried that it’s just a foot-off-the-pedal break in momentum, don’t see it as a rest. Instead, it’s a chance for consolidation, for reflecting on your progress so far, and maybe revisiting some of the materials you thought could do with a bit more attention. Having a week free of calendar appointments and formal, diarised learning can be completely liberating.
I’ve found that when I do this with my languages – perhaps taking a week of random dabbling – I often get a touch of the ‘returner learner’ effect, too. After all, a change is as good as a rest.
The Right Wavelength
It’s a timely reminder that we are not built like robots; our energy and drives come in waves and cycles, and a bit of punctuation in your routine can be a good pacer.
As for the next step in flexible learning at Edinburgh? Convince the powers that be to build a study week into the first term, too!
How do you build in natural breaks for reflection and consolidation? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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