Education: What Should a Writer Study?

I’ve always felt like the odd duck in the children’s writing community.  It seems like 90% of the writers, both published and up-and-coming, that I meet have backgrounds in education, literature or library sciences.

Me?  In addition to Freshman English and Junior English (both required), I took maybe two lit classes.  After all, I needed humanities credits. I’ve had two education classes.  My favorite was on teaching evolutionary theory.  The other was museum teaching strategies for classroom study through MOMA.  The closest thing to library sciences that I’ve taken was a course on copyright joint taught by Duke, Emory and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

My actual formal education started with a BA in anthropology.  I actually worked in archaeological graphics, creating maps and charts and drawing artifacts.  I’ve actually worked with funerary medallions from a cholera cemetery.  I then completed an MA in history, focusing on Asia, Latin America and the Modern US.  I chose these specialties so that I could construct my own specialty on immigration.

Why not literature or english?  I actually chose my MA program after I started writing.  I wanted to learn to do the primary research needed to correct mistaken ideas and attitudes about history.

But I’m also a life long learner, as they say. I take a couple of MOOC a year.  I just finished one on ancient Egypt that was painfully boring.  Yep.  Let me tell you.  It takes some serious effort to make Egyptian antiquities dull but this guy pulled it off.  I managed to learn a few things in spite of him but it was not enjoyable.

So what to pick next?  I narrowed it down to a course on historic fiction, one on interpreting illuminated manuscripts and another on osteo anthropology (what we can learn from skeletal remains).  I’d like to take all three eventually but decided to start with the osteo anthropology.  I’m working on a two book contract and didn’t want to have to read I-had-no-clue-how-much for the lit class.  I had a human origins lab that simply fascinated me.  So anthropology was an easy choice.  Anthropology and history have served me well thus far.

Now if’ you’ll excuse me, I need to watch a video lecture on the pubic symphysis and adult age estimates.



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