My irrational choice to go back to school

• ~300 words • 1 minute read

The title is intentionally misleading. I'm not going back to school. What I am doing is taking an online course through Coursera this week taught by Duke's Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality and The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty. The course is entitled A Beginners Guide to Irrational Behavior. It starts on Tuesday and I believe you can still sign-up.

There's not real reason for me to be participating. I'm not doing it for credit or to further myself in my current field, and I certainly have more than enough things to keep me occupied on the work-front these days. But a friend of mine suggested we take it together. Because it seemed like something I would not normally do — I was quite relieved to be finished with school and have never had a very strong desire to return, though I do, perhaps paradoxically, have an unquenchable desire to learn new things — that struck me as precisely the reason I should do it.

So I'm going back to school. I'm worried that my old school habits will creep in and that I'll put everything off until the last minute, but I'm also wondering if the lack of credit, the lack of any real consequence in failing the course will somehow motivate me to participate more than I might normally. It's a habit I've certainly noticed from time to time in myself, where the procrastination rears its head with things I know I really should be doing, yet the things that do not require such attention somehow get the bulk of it.

It looks like my participation in this class on irrational behavior is an extra-meta layer of being a kind of experiment in irrational behaviors.