Research has shown that the brain needs exercise as much as the body does. You can find various exercises on the internet to help with this along with other ideas for maintaining a healthy brain. Two suggestions which crop up in every list is ‘learn something new’ and ‘socialise’. Learning a new skill or gaining new knowledge apparently stimulates new connections between nerve cells; and the more neural circuits you have the harder it is for changes associated with neurodegenerative diseases to manifest themselves. As for socialising, it encourages blood to circulate to different areas of the brain for functions such as listening and partaking in interactive conversation.
Two members of BIG have fully committed to this by studying for a degree.
Many people, especially those in business, learn how to solve their own problems on the hoof. Many of us apply knowledge that we have gained from hobbies and interests to our business practices, and I am certainly guilty of that. To assist with the operation of my businesses I have taught myself coding and built some applications to make things easier for me and my staff. So when my business partners tell clients how magnificent these developments are, they want to leverage this skill I have learned for themselves.
Flattering and an opportunity in itself!
Having a desire to deliver exceptional quality in everything I do, I realised it was time to ensure what I have been doing quietly in the background, can stand up to professional scrutiny. This led me to enrolling on a Software Engineering Degree at the University of Hull, in September 2021.
I have completed the first term and already I am learning how some of my self‑taught misapprehensions can be corrected. There is lots of new language to learn and the academic discipline is quiet a departure from the freedom I have enjoyed as a Company Director for the past 30ish years.
Despite the COVID pandemic trying its best to make things difficult, I am thoroughly enjoying my new activities. The high level of enhancements to which my knowledge is being subjected, is paying dividends in many aspects of my business life as well as on campus.
In a few years from now, I fully expect to be launching a well-built, functioning piece of software to the anticipating public, and I expect that I will have a huge grin on my face as I do, because the journey is proving to be great fun!
Perhaps a full time degree course is a touch extreme, but I would wholeheartedly recommend that everyone goes “back to school” in some way, to be reinvigorated, inspired and refreshed.
“Sharpen that saw!”
I passed over the opportunity to study for an engineering degree when leaving school, choosing instead an HND in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering, combined with training and placements at GEC, Coventry; from there moving into a career of IT. Over the years I have occasionally thought, wistfully, that a degree is something I’d like to have achieved.
The recent opportunity only had to present itself once for me to jump up and grab it with both hands so, with adult children long flown and settled elsewhere, in September 2021 I started at De Montfort University, Leicester on a 3-year course to study Fine Art. ‘Why Fine Art?’ a number of people have asked, being very complimentary on my artistic ability. That’s a good question and one I gave serious consideration to prior to starting.
I have spent years self learning, picking techniques up from workshops, books, online and have generally settled to what I enjoy and do best. However being creative in isolation is lonely and limited – it encourages self absorbtion and narrow vision. Then there’s the perception that every artwork produced has to be perfect, giving rise to stilted and lifeless pieces.
University is the opposite to this. Surrounded by enthusiastic, creative people is incredibly inspiring, ideas bouncing between us sparking more ideas and encouraging us all to push the boundaries. Then there’s the liberation of being allowed, in fact encouraged, to make mistakes. This isn’t brain surgery, mistakes aren’t fatal, on the contrary they are a necessary part of learning. Not worrying whether something will work out means that, when it does, the artwork has an energy and freshness to it as it hasn’t been overworked.
The course at DMU has an underlying focus on drawing, something it’s been great to go back to basics on – there’s no short cuts as far as this is concerned, the only way to improve is practise. It’s also been great to have formal lectures on art history and Context and Professional Studies. This has helped me to start to see where my work fits in the world of art and, very importantly, how to write about myself and my practice.
It’s boosting my confidence and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead in the coming months and years. I have started a blog to record aspects of life as a mature student https://backtothedrawingboard.jackiewhall.co.uk
So, what are you waiting for? Learn something new in 2022!