Sunday, September 4, 2011

a love of learning

As I said in my last post (which was #100, by the way--for comparison, at the two-year mark when I was writing my previous blog, by this time I'd written over three hundred posts), this year will be my last year at NBCCD. **sniffle** So I'm starting to piece together what I might want to do post-college.

I remember when I "graduated" from homeschooling in '06. Back then, I had no idea what I wanted to be "when I grew up"--I didn't even know if I wanted to go to college or university. In terms of education, for at least two of the three years between graduation and starting FVA (congratulations on Week One, Class of '12!), I had no idea what I wanted to do in terms of a career and post-secondary education (PSE). I was very confused. Eventually, though, I started drifting towards wanting to be a photographer, and I applied to NBCCD as a mature student (I don't have my GED because in order to take the test I'd need high-school-level math, which I don't have since I don't plan on going into engineering, architecture, or anything else that would require more than grade-eight-level math). While I had no choice but to wait three years, I'm glad that I didn't go to college until '09, because by then I knew what I wanted to do (or at least, I was forming some ideas).

And up until about three-quarters of the way through the '10-'11 school year, I wasn't too keen on university. College, yes, but not university (remember: in Canada, colleges don't grant degrees unless they're within a university--like UNB's College of Extended Learning and Renaissance College, which is UNB's leadership studies program. When I graduate, I'll have a diploma.). But over the course of this past school year, I've warmed to the idea of going to university. I've started to truly fall in love with learning, and after I finish at NBCCD, I want to keep learning. As a homeschooler, I've grown up with the message that I'm always learning--not just when I'm doing school-related work. So what I mean is, I want to keep learning in an academic setting.

I'm still working out what I want to do for a career. I know I want to do something in photography, and I have to do something that's deliberately creative--I know that I wouldn't be happy stuck in a controlled, predictable lighting studio doing, for example, product photography (the studio's cool and fun, but I also need a certain level of unpredictability when I'm creating something)--but other than that, I'm still figuring out how I'm going to make this artist thing work. As the daughter of an artist, I've grown up surrounded by art, and the knowledge of how difficult the biz is. And some media are more difficult to get into than others--fashion is extremely difficult and competitive to get into. So unless you're really lucky, you have to do many different things, and I'm finally starting to realize that for myself (after my parents tried to hammer it into me for the last few years--but no matter what Mom says, I'm probably not going to do that much commercial work, though I want to try my hand at weddings--yes, really, Tom).

The first option (that didn't involve commercial photography) that was brought to my attention was writing. I remember one of my assessments last year, I sat down--and the next thing I knew, Peter was talking about my writing and how good it is. Until this year, I hadn't realized just how much I enjoy writing (though I knew I enjoyed sitting down and writing a good long email to a friend), and I've come to realize just how much I like putting down words on a piece of paper (physical or electronic), and in fact, until this year I hated writing for school: every time Mom gave me an essay to write, it would take forever for me to finish the darn thing.

In the last few months, I've been thinking more and more about what I might like to do post-NBCCD. At first I considered a BFA at Mt. Allison University in Sackville, NB. But since their photography program is all-film, that idea is out (even though I love film). The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD, which I considered briefly around the time that I applied to NBCCD) was out almost immediately, due to their approach to art which, although it's a worthwhile approach, just wouldn't be me. While I could probably handle the avant-garde approach, and might even find it interesting (I love different and unusual), the art = money/commercial aspect of that university would probably send me running the other way. Yes, you need to be able to put food on the table, but I don't believe that money should be the main thing that's driving your creative process--passion should.

Another option that I've been eyeing is a B.Ed in art education at the University of New Brunswick. This past spring, when I was going home one weekend, a friend who was doing FVA at the time showed me a contact sheet she'd developed, and she thought that she would have to re-shoot the roll. I had a look at it and said that she probably didn't give the contact sheet enough time in the enlarger--another five to ten seconds should do it. And also check the filter--I normally use either a #2.5 or a #3. As Mom and I walked out afterwards, Mom said that I'd make a good teacher: I know a lot of stuff, and I like sharing my knowledge. I've been thinking about that ever since, and getting a degree in education has been looking more and more tempting. And in case you're wondering where I'd be interested in teaching, I'm thinking NBCCD (either FVA or the photo studio), or possibly summer courses at Sunbury Shores in St. Andrews.

I had a look at the faculty of education page on UNB's website yesterday, and if I wanted to do a B.Ed there, I'd have to get another bachelors degree first.

Which brings me to yet another post-NBCCD option: BFA in photography. While Mt. A. is officially a no-go, while reading an article about a show at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, I came across yet another school: Concordia University in Montreal. Here's some of what they say about their photography studio:
"Photographic facilities include: Hi-end computers, a drum scanner, two virtual drum scanners plus negative and flatbed scanners, 44" inkjet printers and other smaller printers. Facilities also include a colour darkroom with 20 colour enlargers, 30" and 40" colour processors and print viewing area, 18 black and white enlargers, a large print darkroom and finishing area, and two studios. The facilities also have portable photographic equipment: cameras including digital 4 x 5 and 6 x 7, and accessories including electronic flash kits, soft boxes, tripods, light metres and other items."
**swoon** You know you're a photographer when you get excited about a forty-four-inch inkjet printer (NBCCD's is twenty inches narrower) and large-format digital cameras (those would be the 4x5's and 6x7's). Note that Concordia teaches both film and digital. The fact that Mt. A. doesn't really do a lot of digital is why it got kicked off the list of possible schools. I'm passionate as heck about film (I own four cameras, and two of those are film cameras), want to learn more about the medium, and dream of setting up my own darkroom at some point after I graduate next year, but if I want to make money using my camera (and I do), I pretty much have to know digital.

Oh, and CU also has an art education degree, though it's a BFA (Art Education--Visual Arts).

I have to admit that sometimes I feel a bit hesitant to say anything when I discover something related to higher education that I might be interested in. Mostly I think it has to do with money, and I know that I'm going to have to take at least a year off post-NBCCD, get a job, and save up if I want to go on and do a BFA/B.Ed. ...or if I want to go back to NBCCD and do a Graduate Studies certificate (which used to be the Advanced Diploma, and has changed over the summer).

I spent today packing and loading stuff into Mom's Highlander, and I'm totally wiped. Tomorrow, I'll do a last-minute dash, packing stuff like my hairbrush, pyjamas and bedside-table clock. I plan to do some minor shopping on Tuesday (must. get. cocoa.--preferably organic and/or fair-trade), and my first class will be on Wednesday morning. Even better: said first class will be a PHOTOSHOP CLASS!!!! NBCCD, you totally know the way to my heart. I'll have a lighting class that afternoon.


  1. I'm with you on the whole never wanting to stop learning thing!

  2. I'm 78 and still excited about learning! I cannot afford classes, but I can pick people's brains, and am blessed with a lot of supportive friends. Concordia sounds like the best match for you. You do not want a standard B. Ed; not enough room for passion; mostly management of groups to obfuscate their really learning.