Working with students on research papers is an interesting experience (it’s for film theory at the moment, but I get to cross genres quite a bit in my graduate student support work). They have scads of information at their fingertips, so it often becomes a matter of facilitating critical thinking about their sources (99% of which are weak as heck). Finding out about one nifty thing sometimes becomes an end point, and encouragement to keep delving and looking for more history and background for the “discovery
” (oof) they’ve made is met with resistance. A thing gets shared, everyone says ‘ooh’ and any context for it is missing, ignored, boring, and that thing become a favorite for a minute again, and is forgotten soon after. I appreciate the excitement of seeing or hearing or reading or learning something new, but don’t always get stopping there (which I suppose says something more about me and what might be perceived as nerdiness about topics that get under my skin…yeah yeah).
It reminds me of how I found some of my favorite songs and bands when I was a kid. I would listen to a record or 45 or tape I loved, or hear a song on the radio (thank you KXLU, and then a bit later KALX and KUSF), then try to learn who that band was influenced by and go listen to them. Or I would find out that a song I liked was actually a cover, and then get my mind blown tracking down the original, then going back to what they were listening to, and on and on.* Backwards thinking? Maybe! But it often led to seeing both the forest and the trees, and knowledge that nothing exists or is created in a vacuum. I’ve done it with dance that way over the years, too, and with my other studies. Having had to do research, both as a hobbyist, academically, and for work, without the internet, I sometimes get bummed seeing what can be perceived as superficial knowledge taken for granted or as solid truth, with no critical thought or context required. A blog post or a facebook post or a you tube video does not research or education make, though it can be a great start and a most useful tool. But it is never an end.
Maybe I need to appreciate a sense of wonder in others more. It’s the stopping point that baffles me, I suppose, along with deciding you have heard or learned something as fact and then setting yourself up as an expert on it (though that is another post). What is wrong with being and staying a student for a long time? Every damn thing being monetized may be part of the problem.
Meh. Curmudgeonly (but well meaning, I promise) meandering random thoughts on a foggy but slowly brightening Sunday morning before I go to rehearsal
to play music of Sayed Darwish
for 5 hours! (Only going back to the early 20th century today!).
*For example, I was a huge Damned fan in my early teens. When I found out Looking at You was an MC5 cover, I ran to my record store all wide eyed to find out more. Mind blown. Best ever, you guys. Another example was Jim Carroll leading back to Patti Smith who led back to Rimbaud…and on and on and on. Granted at 12 or 13 everything is new and exciting, but ultimately it still works that way for new-to-me music, dancers, films, poetry, books.