SAE Project 4: Analysing Myself as a Learner

What kind of a learner am I? Sometimes a very frustrated one, but then that also largely depends on the subject I am ‘learning’. This week’s task is to analyse myself as a learner.  This is something I do constantly in an attempt to improve myself and achieve my goals.  I would say that my weaknesses and dyspraxia have forced me to develop my strengths. This very awareness, allows me to compensate for my weaknesses with my strengths.

IMG_5786.jpg by Siobhon van der Merwe on


  • I am a very hard worker. Possibly because of dyspraxia, but besides that, I think it is in my character anyway. I don’t like feeling left behind, or not understanding something so I will prepare in advance for things, or go through work after a class to make sure I have understood it.
  • I am very conscientious. I like my work to be done on time, I research my subject carefully and I make sure I always deliver my best work.
  • I am a very disciplined student. Studying the piano has taught me that. Piano practice always came first, so whether I am studying for school, or SAE I am very comfortable with the idea of putting my studies, first. I always make sure my work is done on time (if not well before), and I will always attend my classes unless I am so sick I cannot get out of bed.
  • I am highly organised. I need a plan because I work slowly, so my studies and assignments are all diarised well in advance. I also need to have time for my piano practice so I need to make allowances for that in my schedule too.  It sounds a bit over the top, but when 6 days out of 7 involve 3-4  hours of piano practice a day, as well as attending class at SAE, and the associated study time required I have to plan my day. I also need quality time to be with friends and do things I enjoy doing so being organised gives me time for that too. The bonus is, I am doing what I love so it makes all the hours I spend studying and preparing easy! I think because of my time management weakness, I have developed strong organisational skills to compensate for this. I also find being organised helps me work under pressure and manage the fact that I work very slowly.
  • I have some very good general strengths with regard to still photography, and piano skills. I am also really good at putting a camera shot, whether still or moving to a musical beat. A good skill to have if I am going to go into post production. Fifteen years of playing the piano and being around music gives you that 6th sense and a cellular understanding of rhythm.


  • Time management – I spend a lot of time organising myself so I do not have time management problems, but when I am under pressure or anxious I struggle to keep on track. Exam situations are always an issue, as I struggle to manage my time and rarely finish my paper.
  • I am slow – I think slowly and carefully, which means I work slowly, so any kind of situation that requires me to think fast is not easy for me. It makes me very anxious as I struggle to function as I need to in situations like this.
  • I don’t work well under extreme pressure, but if I am prepared and have had the time to plan for this then it is a lot easier, and I cope quiet well. It’s those unplanned for pressurised moments that I struggle with.
  • I struggle to apply knowledge. I spend a lot of time committing things of importance to my long term memory which helps considerably. This is especially true with subjects that require you to apply knowledge from one area of learning to another. Maths for example was an absolute nightmare for me at school. I for one am very grateful for a calculator and the less I need to know about vectors and venn diagrams the happier I am! Anyone with dyspraxia will find the application of knowledge particularly challenging.

IMG_7132.jpg by Siobhon van der Merwe on

I reflect a lot in an attempt to improve and build on my weaknesses. I have never been good at the academic side of things, but I am very creative and musical and I love photography so studying at SAE was a natural direction for me. These are my strengths and what a better way to utilise them. I am ambitious, interested in my subject and all that is associated with it, and I work hard.  I like to think my willingness to work will stand me in good stead one day when I look for a job. The reality of studying and working in the UAE can be challenging.  It is a very fluid working and living environment and my studies are dependent on my father’s work permit, which is always a worry, as staying behind to study just wouldn’t be practical if he had to leave.

At the moment, when I am not at SAE I teach the piano to young children. The advantage of teaching the piano and specialising in post production is, it is something you can do anywhere, even from home with the idea of going into business for oneself. SAE is perfect for building up contacts and building on my CV, which I have already started doing before I came to SAE. I have spent the last 18 months working hard at building up my music photography portfolio and I hope to be able to build on this further while I am at SAE.

I plan to involve myself with as much as possible, and meet many people in the industry with the idea of building a network of contacts for myself that are familiar with me and my work. Learning from others and keeping up with current trends in the industry is very important and I believe studying at SAE will give me these opportunities. It is just up to me now to make the most of these opportunities and make them work for me. There will always be people in the industry that are better than I am, but I have found that ambition, a desire to improve at what I do, hard work, consistence, reliability, and being good at what I do, as well as loving what I do, will get me far too.

I look forward to seeing where the next two years take me. It already looks like it is going to be a wonderful and exciting journey and one I will enjoy very much.


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