Learning to learn

After my learning overload of the past month, I was looking forward to making time to assimilate all my new learning. Oh, I’d forgotten I’d signed up for a short series of Sanskrit reading classes!

According to my usual habit of imagining all learning situations will be challenging and difficult, with an over-demanding teacher who will find me vastly inadequate, I had already started to get nervous about this.

I have barely read any Sanskrit for more than a year. My lockdown intention of incorporating a little language study in my daily practice routines went slightly askew (I do have a daily language learning practice — but it’s Greek rather than Sanskrit!). I started to worry that I wouldn’t remember how to read Devanagari. There are some characters I always found tricky (the less usual ones I guess, but that doesn’t stop me aiming for perfect recall!). My grammar learning is a bit tenuous, even with the basics. When I compare to Latin learning at a younger age when the brain absorbs more quickly, I was drilled in reciting noun and verb tables in any direction my teacher demanded. I certainly didn’t learn Sanskrit that way! Plus I’m the only one joining the class fresh, the others have already studied together earlier in the year, so lots of imposter syndrome thoughts that they will all know stuff I don’t and have magically bonded in some important way (reliving childhood nightmares of being the new girl and eating lunch on my own in the school canteen, obviously!….).

So many worries…

And on top of that I got an email with pre-class homework, including multiple attachments for review. Gulp!

When I remembered to breathe again and actually read it, the email from the teacher was in fact wonderful, full of kindness and patience. The attachments were the text in transliteration rather than Devanagari, including both sandhi and non-sandhi versions — so he’s making a big effort to make the basics of reading really accessible. He also included some grammar revision sheets, kindly noting that I wouldn’t have seen them before. His homework suggestions was really gentle and optional: to try to read the first few verses of the text out loud aiming for correct pronunciation, to see if we recognised any of the words, or any of the grammatical forms.

I’m starting to realise that as an adult and with kinder teachers that learning can be fun and explorative and need not be an arduous trial. I’m looking forward to my first class now and all the experiences it will offer. Even though I haven’t done my homework yet…

6 thoughts on “Learning to learn

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  1. I’m just about to sit down and start a new endeavour: parsing and translating 3 verses from the Valmiki Ramayana. I’m also feeling some – no, much – trepidation! There is no romanized transliteration in the text I have (there is an English translation). I went from excitement upon receiving the two volume set to feeling absolutely not up to the task as my teacher gently introduced me to the text this week. I observe myself continually wanting to stay within my comfort zone, in many endeavours. BUT NO!!! That’s just a prescription for wasting a perfectly good incarnation, no??
    Let’s just DO IT, right, bbc?

    Liked by 1 person

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