How Open Learning has had a Great Affect on my Life

Elizabeth Hewet - English Literature Diploma

When my children started to get to the age that they were spending more time with their friends, and my husband was at work each day, I realised that I had more time on my hands than I needed. It was also around this time that I realised that the literature that I was reading, and by most part the literature I could find in the local shops pretty much had all the same plots. I was getting bored of the novels that tried entertaining with mysteries that weren't so clever, twists in court cases that were easy to work out by the second page, and woman telling me that I clearly couldn't fit in if my wardrobe didn't offer at least twenty pairs of worshipped shoes! I wasn't terribly worried about how my body parts looked in my clothes which seems to be a running theme in most novels, as long as I looked tidy and presentable, and I had no use for the small romances that always turn out alright in the end. I clearly had lost any interest in escaping to these places and wondered if there was something more to look forward to.

I wondered about book shops and always went straight past the 'classics' aisles, deciding that they were too difficult for me, and thought that reading one of 'those' books wouldn't be an escape, but difficult. For a long while I left the shops empty handed until I couldn't stand the newspapers anymore. They certainly were not an escape! I had to do something drastic, and my saviour came in the shape of distance learning. I enrolled on an English Literature diploma which is done through open learning and distance learning with Oxford College ODL. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to do it, and simply picking up the course scared me at the beginning. I couldn't believe that after so much time away from learning, I could actually grasp something that I had been scared of almost all my life, but I slowly started reading through the material, and writing my first assignment. My tutor was very encouraging, and had I not had her support, I probably would have never believed that I could complete such a diploma, but I have.

I have now got the freedom of walking into any bookshop, and picking out a book and enjoying it. This may not sound like a big accomplishment, but it is. There really is no more fear that I am not 'good enough' to enjoy it. I understand the concepts of antagonists and protagonists, plots and red herrings. I can feel the feelings that these 'greats' have given us through their works, and I am no longer someone who has to settle for feeble novels that are thrown together by people that are just interested in 'selling' and getting their names on lists. The 'Greats' are called the 'Greats' for a reason. Now I know why, and the enjoyment I now get from them is precisely the reason for which they were written. I am now confident to pick up anything and I know that I myself am able to understand and enjoy what is written for me to enjoy.

About the Author

Written by Elizabeth Hewet, head of the Natural Passage Society of London. For more information on Oxford Distance Learning please see