Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Is graduate school a license to pontificate?

I'm trying to figure out what comes first, the urge to pontificate or the desire to attend graduate school, which then gives graduates a license to pontificate? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Do people who are more naturally inclined to go on&on&on want to attend grad school or do we learn these skills in grad school? I've been to so many academic conferences lately and the one thing I've been amazed at is how we say we want to be in "dialogue" but we really just want to "be heard."

It was saddest at one session where the grad students were supposed to give an overview of their papers and then take questions from the rest of the group. Instead of asking questions of those students about their papers, the other academics tended to blather on and on about their own interests and theories. The poor students ended up sitting there looking rather dazed and confused about the whole thing. It was supposed to be a learning experience, but I'm not sure what lessons were learned, except that I learned to keep my answers short and sweet.


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