August and the summer holidays is the time of year one thinks of as being most apt for projects of improvement – whether of furnishings, of equipment, or oneself. In some respects this habit of thinking is merely a convenient way of putting things off, as some of the long-pondered changes, when they occur, take no more than an hour or two, and cause no major disruption even of those hours.
The new photocopier, now humming at the side of the room, is an instance of this. It was installed, and I was instructed in its basic operations, in a matter of minutes one morning this week. The new photocopier has the facility for printing in colour as well as black and white. Away then finally with the old desktop printers with their expensive inks! They had been begging to be scrapped for at least two of the three years since the previous photocopier arrived. But the change would always be reserved for an August.
Improvement of oneself – reading and learning – is not just matter for an hour or two, and therefore August does provide an opportunity to lay up some new learning, or refresh some old. In regard to old learning I have been re-reading Pride and Prejudice – it had occurred to me long ago that the novel might be presented as required for study, and that I ought to be better prepared for this eventuality. Reading it in a leisurely way this August has meant that I shall hypothetically be able to take it on without having to sacrifice appreciation and nearly all enjoyment, in a ‘speed-reading ‘ exercise beforehand.
Requiring rather more dedication, if not more time than it has taken to read Jane Austen, was an August project that I had pledged (when August seemed a long way off) to my supplier of Maths resources. This was to write a series of Calculations for Chemistry, basic exercises in working out quantities and percentages in chemical reactions, which could be then programmed in New Zealand by Paradise Academy, (or PAR – see blog of September 2013) and added to the rest of the materials.
The first exercises were very simple – I began with zeal and made good headway – but then slowed, as the necessity to research, check and revise exercises progressively grew. The time came to stop and to submit what had been finished. Further exercises might be envisaged, but not this year.
And then something else came along – an opportunity to make extra money marking late GCSE Literature papers for OCR. I responded – and as it turned out, wasted most of the first week of August.
But that is another story – as yet unfinished – to which I may return…