Now that I am back in student mode, I have had to contemplate a lot of things:
1. I have now removed all doubts as to whether or not I made the best move when I decided to do my MS during the summers. I earned my MS by taking three consecutive summers and packing up and moving. Had I tried to do this while actually teaching, I am certain I would have gone mad and given up. People do this, and I don’t know how.
2. When doing an assignment, context helps.
Case in point. I just finished my first course … a course on ethics. It was an interesting class, that taught me, via case studies, that for all of the problems my school is facing, it could be worse. I had a few papers to write, but they were relatively simple. My last assignment was a short research paper on the work of a particular philosopher who specialized in moral theory applied to educational leadership. As a matter of fact, this guy worked at UIUC when I was an undergrad and trying to stay as far from the College of Education as possible. We never discussed him in class … that is hardly a reason not to do research on someone … but it sure would have helped in this case.
I began checking out some articles by this guy, and quickly surmised that this guy was saying “it is critical for educational leaders to have a moral core”. Gosh … who would have thunk it?
The problem: trying to write a paper that was longer than three sentences was something that I was having an impossibly difficult time with. I was completely lacking in the context of where this person was. It reminded me of Richard Feynman’s story of being involved in a interdisciplinary round-table that was supposed to come to an agreement on moral and ethical decision making, and finding that his concepts of “agreement” and “support” were vastly different than what were used by others. He (like I) seemed to lack a common vocabulary. Feynman could at least claim that he was the only scientist in the crowd. This is supposedly discussing an aspect of education which is like … my calling! I spent three weeks of the 8 week course researching and could find myself getting nowhere. I felt like Don Music. Allow me to give context (the part from about 0:43-0:55 is just about what I was repeatedly doing):
After three weeks, with about a two weeks to go, I was really stuck. I gave it a few days, and it still wasn’t there. There were three options for the paper, and two dealt with this guy … the third option dealt with a different guy. With time running out, I chucked everything on options 1 & 2 and decided to go for broke.
The good news: This second guy did something that I could finally comprehend and was more than just “be good!”. Since I was working, it took me well into the wee hours of the morning for the better part of a week to start composing. I finally finished last night, and sent it along on the last day it was due.
It is going to be a long year + until I am done. The good news: I learned that this first class will move me up a column of pay. The bad news: yesterday was the last day to submit grade reports to get the pay bump prior to the start of next year … something quite impossible with the class ending yesterday.
The world continues to conspire against me. Fear not friends!! I am working on a plan right now to take the world down a notch. Then I will be laughing while the world squirms.