Tuesday, June 26, 2007


There come times in life when we slip into contemplative reflection more than usual. Occasionally, this occurs conveniently - in which case we actually have quality time to reflect. Wise people devote a little time every day to the questions, "What am I learning?" and "What does that mean?" Others of us push these questions aside only to have them burst forth unexpected demanding address. Clearly I am experiencing a bit of 'bursting forth' if you are reading this!

I find myself pressed with some urgent questions these days, and have identified a regiment by which I can begin to answer them. If you are thinking, "Oh great. He's going to subject us to his personal struggles," you are only partially correct. My personal challenge is to wrestle with my questions on this blog in a way that will engage some of you. If anyone out there feels motivated to comment or argue with me, I'd be tickled.

My reflections of late have all been different faces of the question, "What is the meaning of graduate school?"

By the end of this series of posts, I expect to either:
  1. tire of this topic
  2. find a robust answer to the question or
  3. defend my dissertation.
It is possible that all three of these will occur, as my scheduled defense is September 13, 2007.

I can identify a few reasons why I have not been able to silence my thoughts about this question. They include:
  1. scheduling my defense and selecting a time line that resulted in a 40 day flood of experiments.
  2. receiving a call from the labor relations office about my non-compliant status in the collective bargaining unit of graduate students at the University of Washington, and the subsequent discussions I had with folks about that.
  3. my tendency to need numerous intellectual distractions whenever I am working hard on particular tasks.
  4. the observation that if I don't comment on being a graduate student now, when will I?
  5. a personal belief that questions that keep me awake for more than three nights are as close to any sign as I will ever experience.
I will still post entries similar to those you've been reading, but will spend a little bit of time on my latest burning question:

What is the meaning of graduate school?

1 comment:

Karen Ventii said...

To me graduate school is a psychological roller coaster (where experiments may or may not work for unknown reasons.) I love the science but I see grad school as a means to an end and sometimes I have to remind myself that it won’t last forever. Good luck on finishing up your dissertation.