Reading / Research

A Mixed Bag of 10 Thoughts, Quoted

I collect quotations from various places. Books and online. I make notes on the stuff I read every day.

I thought I’d drop 10 examples your way in this post. Just because. Maybe something will inspire or interest you further.

You never know when a comment here and an example there can come in handy. I also collect random stories that are of no use at the moment, but are quirky. When the right time comes along, I use the stories to inject some fun into a piece of writing.

Always be on the lookout for inspiration. You may find nothing of interest in the examples below. But when you see anything that makes you stop and think, it’s worth making a note of it. The more you can collect, the more you have at your disposal later on.

Note it down. Save it for later.

Collecting little thoughts is one way you can start to make good use out of what you consume.

10 Thoughts, Quoted

1.

“You will find the future wherever people are having the most fun.”

From the Introduction to Wonderland by Steven Johnson

In other words, get playful!

1play

2.

“Ultimately innovation is local. You have a problem to fix, a group who want to solve it, and you come together in a common space to work it out.”

http://blog.hefce.ac.uk/2016/12/19/how-higher-education-can-make-the-industrial-strategy-a-success/

I like how the ‘local’ doesn’t always have to be in terms of physical placement.

2connect

3.

“…holding on to the idea that willpower is a limited resource can actually be bad for you, making you more likely to lose control and act against your better judgment.”

https://medium.com/the-mission/the-way-youve-been-thinking-about-willpower-is-hurting-you-8621b1e2b30f#.x9wtrfkte

Willpower is limited if you think it is. I will you to keep going!

3willpower

4.

“If takers are selfish and failed givers are selfless, successful givers are otherish: they care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests.” – p.182

From Give and Take by Adam Grant

Giving is wonderful, so long as you remember to give to yourself at the same time.

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5.

“A sociologist at the University of Chicago surveyed the references cited in a database of 34 million scientific articles. He analyzed the citations with respect to whether the articles cited were available online. The more journals became digitally available, the more recent the references became, and the narrower their scope.” – p.61

From Words Onscreen by Naomi S. Baron

The book was published in 2016. That feels like ages ago…

5time

6.

“Student loan policy wonks have always assumed that if you provide guarantees and limit liability/risk on student loans, then students will be ok with debt.  But if the facts of the policy don’t change people’s attitudes about risk, then the policies will fail, no matter how well they deal with the actual problems at hand.”

http://higheredstrategy.com/does-student-debt-matter-if-youre-not-going-to-pay-it-back/

This is just as relevant for parents too. The idea of debt, no matter how it’s presented, is too much for some. Especially when there have been past problems with more traditional debts, or they have spent their life avoiding debt. What do you think those parents will say to their children who want to go to university?

6debt

7.

“Podcasting is sometimes dismissed as nothing more than radio in your ears, on your own schedule, but I beg to differ. It’s far more intimate than traditional radio. And news organizations that realize the power of this intimacy will likely have an advantage in the long run.”

http://www.niemanlab.org/2016/12/the-year-of-the-newsy-podcast/

On-demand audio for the win.

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8.

“Humans live peacefully with contradictions precisely because of their capacity to compartmentalise. And when contradictory statements, actions or emotions jump out of their contextual box, we are very good, perhaps too good, at finding justifications to soothe cognitive dissonance.”

https://aeon.co/ideas/how-our-contradictions-make-us-human-and-inspire-creativity

But when you recognise this, you can use the abundance of contradiction in wonderful ways too. Embrace the push and pull.

8contradiction

9.

“Crucially, our ‘social orientation’ appears to spill over into more fundamental aspects of reasoning. People in more collectivist societies tend to be more ‘holistic’ in the way they think about problems, focusing more on the relationships and the context of the situation at hand, while people in individualistic societies tend to focus on separate elements, and to consider situations as fixed and unchanging.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170118-how-east-and-west-think-in-profoundly-different-ways

Specific generalisations. The article has some thought-provoking stuff.

9fixed

10.

A reason why conservatives tend to use nouns more than liberals is because nouns outline greater stability. Describing someone using nouns “implies more certainty and permanence about their state of being”.

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/01/12/why-conservatives-like-to-use-nouns-more-than-liberals-do/

Pay attention to how people describe things. Do they “feel positive”, or are they “a positive person”? You may get a better insight when you listen to how the sentences are constructed as well as what’s being said.

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Think of the little thoughts and stories you collect as stepping stones. Each step can take you closer to new ideas.

Over to you. It’s time to create out of what you curate.

How long should you take to prepare for class?

prepare-for-class

Last week, I talked about deadlines.

Deadlines are usually reserved for coursework. But it helps to think about the smaller projects and preparation you need to do before class.

The deadline for seminar preparation is the day of that class. Pretty simple. But not always obvious. If you haven’t thought of it as a deadline until now, maybe that’s enough to see it in a new light.

Lectures and seminars usually rely on you having done some work beforehand. It could be some reading, a small quiz, a survey, an experiment, an exercise, or something similar.

I remember it being standard to fit prep in at the last minute. The same day was no surprise. And some people would even do the work as they walked to campus, moments before class started. A frenzy of reading and walking.

That’s not enough time to do the work. Glancing isn’t engaging.

At such a basic level, there’s not much chance to ask relevant questions and properly interact in seminars.

It doesn’t feel like so much rests on doing this work. “I can always catch up and do it in my own time,” you could say.

Problem is, the idea of preparation is to bring out the best in our abilities when the more important work does come along.

So while last-minute preparation for class is clearly a less important version of the all-nighter, it could still leave you worse off than you should be in the long run.

The way to combat this is to prepare for preparation.

What does that mean!? Essentially, it means that when you know what’s expected of you before you attend, do these 3 things:

  1. Plan what you’re going to do (if it isn’t already explicit);
  2. Estimate roughly how long it will take (and leave room for extra time just in case);
  3. Schedule when you’re going to do it.

It’s amazing how free you’ll feel when you prepare for preparation. All it takes is making that solid schedule and having a full understanding of what’s expected of you.

working

You don’t need to schedule it all in one go either. Let’s say your course is heavy on the reading. You have 100 pages to read before next week’s session. Why not find four slots in your schedule to read 25 pages each time? Or five 20-page sittings?

The more you’re in control of your plan, the better you can engage with your learning.

My worst experiences have been the times when I put off the inevitable. My best experiences have been when I have all the preparation laid out in readiness.

Think of your own best experiences. When you enjoy the work and get stuck in, the learning feels easier. The preparation seems to fall into place without effort.

Why does it feel so effortless? Put simply, your enthusiasm allows you to naturally prepare the groundwork.

And since we can’t feel as enthusiastic about everything we do, we need to be a bit more considered in our approach.

The execution is always the same. Set out what you’ll do, prepare for everything, and make it happen.

You can’t fake the excitement, but you can always stay ahead with your prep.

Avoid the Trap of Consuming Everything Before You Start Creating

consume-create-tub

How much research do you do for your coursework?

Do you power through and consume as much stuff as possible before getting on with the creation bit?

The more you can create out of what you consume, the more validation you give to consuming content. You won’t use all of it, but there comes a time when you stop looking.

But what if the search doesn’t seem to end?

The more you consume without creating anything from it, the more worrying the situation gets. Snacking on information without an end in sight.

Munch, munch, munch. One book here, another paper there, and a final web search just for luck. Maybe I’ll check the library one more time.

And maybe another time after that…

And it goes on.

When you consume far more than you create, you face a bottleneck at best. The reality is likely worse.

Words like “perfectionism” and “procrastination” start to rear their ugly heads.

Consuming without getting anything valuable out of the process is wasteful. It happens to all of us on occasion, but it shouldn’t be a standard part of your research process.

And you can easily fall into that consumption trap. So watch out.

It feels productive to find lots to read in the library and online, but it merely gets in the way when you’re not using that content for your work.

Keep an eye on why you’re still researching. There are times when you need to look at far more than you’ll refer to, because you’re looking for inspiration or perspective. Or perhaps you’re considering several arguments before you put your own stamp on proceedings.

But make sure you’re not still consuming ALL THE THINGS simply because:

  • You’re scared to start creating;
  • You think you need to cover every possible angle that exists (hint: you don’t);
  • You’re putting off the next stage of your work;
  • You need to find a better research process to work with.

Reasons like those above aren’t good enough to keep you looking for more. Work with what you’ve got, or improve your process so it’s not so time-consuming.

You may have to be brutally honest with yourself. It’s not easy to admit, especially when you are afraid to start.

But when the pressure gets too much, remember that you can always start off without doing any in-depth research at all.

Work with what you’ve got. So long as you’ve had some input from lectures, seminars, set texts, and so on, you should have enough to get started.

And writing your own thoughts and ideas on the page is much better than staring at a blank screen. Or, worse, not even reaching the blank screen stage because you’re busy feeling overwhelmed by how much information is already out there.

When you do your research, go in with the aim of creating something soon. No need to get hold of all the research materials and quotations before you start your own creation.

Banish those bottlenecks. Find a flow that doesn’t involve all the writing at the very end of the process.

A drip-feed of research helps a lot of the information stay at the top of your mind. That, in turn, will get you engaging (and referring) to more of that research.

The more you practice this flow, the more you will create out of what you have consumed.

Get to Grips With Your Essay Writing: TUB-Thump 005

tub-thump-logo-small

 

I’m talking essays for episode 005 of TUB-Thump.

There’s mixing up the order of your writing, knowing when to stop researching, finding texts that talk to you, and much more on today’s show.

Whether you’ve got weeks until the deadline, or it’s due in a few days, check out these tips and find something that suits you.


Here are the show notes for the 15-min episode:

  • Write in whatever order you like while you draft. (01:10)
  • Keep thinking about how you feel, from the moment you get the assignment to the point of finishing (and reading through). Has your opinion/argument changed? How has it changed? Have you reflected this? (02:30)
  • Know when to stop reading and researching. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or you’re going over the same ground, it’s probably time move on. (04:10)
  • Find the clearest, most relevant references that make your point. (05:20)
  • There’s no need to be offended by help. There’s always more to learn. (05:35)
  • Discuss your drafts as you’re going along (07:40)
  • More on telling you to stop doing all-nighters! (08:20)
  • Think critically. Reason and references rule. (10:00)
  • Use/Find your own academic voice. And why the word ‘clever’ doesn’t mean much. (11:10)
  • Bullet-point planning. (12:10)
  • Check out what’s going on at your uni. (12:50)
  • Not all books and texts will talk to you. So don’t stop at one text and simply give up. (13:15)
  • Gaps in your knowledge aren’t weaknesses; they’re challenges. (14:30)

Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!