Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back in School

So I'm back in school. Well, kind of. I have to take my boater's licensing exam, and that requires that I enroll in a Boating Safety course and pass the licensing exam (similar to getting a driver's license but there are no required "practice" hours and you don't need a permit - you go straight from nothing to fully licensed to operate - pretty scary, actually). We have had a boat for... I think 4 or 5 years. I am the one that bought the boat for my husband (I bought it used off of eBay - sight unseen, much to my husband's very justifiable horror - for a truly great price; it has worked perfectly so I was forgiven). It has been a wonderful purchase and we use it almost every weekend during the warm months (late April through October). My husband immediately enrolled in the course at the local community college and received his license. The course takes place over 3 days and I each class session is 3.5 hours long. And boring as all get out from what I hear.

I don't do boring. I can't take it. My husband told me that the instructor literally read from the safety manual, then re-explained the safety manual, then told everyone to read it himself... you get the idea. My blood pressure rises and the mere thought of having to sit through 3+ hours of this. I literally cannot do it. I would be in physical pain. So I put it off.

Finally, this summer I realized that I need to get my license. One, I would like to be able to take the boat out without my husband as his work schedule is terrible. The girls and I would love to go out on the water during the week when it's quiet and peaceful, but I need my license to make this happen. Two, my father bought a sailboat this year and in order for me to sail with him, I need my license. Three, if anything ever happened and my husband was unable to get us back to the marina, I need to be able to do so, and I need my license.

So I'm taking the class. Fortunately, at some point in the past five years they realized that people would pay good money to take the course online. So I'm enrolled in virtual Boater Safety. Unfortunately, the class remains one of the most boring things I've ever had to sit through in my life. I would actually prefer a system similar to the car licensing with practical, hands-on experience. Instead, I have to read information on a screen, watch a computer animation of the same information, watch a video of the same information, and possibly (if I'm lucky) do a fill-in-the-blank on the same information.  By the way, every screen is timed - let's say it's a 2 minute screen, but I read fast (I do) so I'm done in 30 seconds... I have to wait until the 2 minutes is up before moving on. This has led me to become distracted and start doing other things to fill in the wait time (e.g., watch a documentary on Netflix on a different browser). But if I DON'T do something else, I want to cry and scream at how boring the class is. I want to cheat and ask my husband to do it b/c he handles boring far better than I do. I want to stop taking the class and throw in the towel. I'm starting to think that the real test isn't the final exam, but merely being able to sit through one of the most tedious lesson sets I've ever seen.

This has given me fresh perspective on our children and their fate in education if what they are learning is presented in a boring way. Of course, I already "know" this, but it's different when you are experiencing hour after hour of it. It's not the the boater safety material is boring in and of itself - it's the presentation. I'm pretty sure I do a good job of not being boring, but it never hurts to remind oneself of this very important aspect of life.

Note to self: Take steps to ensure that you do not subject your children to boring and repetitive instruction under justifiable penalty of death!


  1. May I call you "Spongebob"?

    But in all seriousness, this is very exciting! Congratulations and hope that you have fun, despite the boring parts!

  2. Heh! lol.
    Thanks - it is fun to think of going out w/o my husband. I was feeling very 1950s having to wait for him.... although the spiders at the marina are among the largest in the world, so I have to admit I don't really mind it when uncovers the boat... :)

  3. This is a great reminder. I need to consider how interesting a lesson is before I subject/introduce it to my kid. Who wants to sit in a boring class? Not our kids. I can send him to public school for that...

  4. Hee, hee, I thought of Spongebob, too!

    Sorry it's so boring. I guess they had to time the screens to keep people from skipping them?

    Too bad you can't just take the test--I'm sure you already know all the stuff!