April 20, 2008

Sketching a course 6

Habits and experience
Today I'm trying desperately to finish a paper that is far too late. Part of the delay is the craziness that is my professional and union life, but another part is that I am delving into two subjects that I have not been diligent in keeping up with. I am keenly interested in them, but they are on the margins of my main research interests, and when one's time is short...

The consequence is that I now have to play catch-up. If I weren't pressed for time in other ways, I would enjoy this process more, because over my life I have repeatedly been required to undergo a "drink from the firehose" experience in reading. It is an exhausting short-term experience, and it challenges me to engage all sorts of skills simultaneously, with the mental effect nothing quite so much like keeping a number of balls in the air at the same time. No, not juggling balls: more like a lit torch, a chef's knife, a soap bubble, and a ceramic bowl filled with yogurt. All of them. If you can keep them up there, it's quite a thrill.

Usually, graduate students have these experiences in high-stakes environments, as major papers at the end of a course. Or, rather, if they do have drink-from-the-firehose feelings, they're not likely to be successful. Is there a way to give them that experience in a strongly positive sense, with far lower stakes?

In more mundane news, I've been suckered into a new exercise regime. No, not suckered: quite enjoyable. But it's another thing I need to schedule. Anyone have a working Time-Turner I can borrow?

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Posted in Research on April 20, 2008 1:49 PM |