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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You know more than you think you do

Take any subject that you don't think you know a lot about. In my case, these subjects might include film, classical music, or sociology, Portuguese poetry...

Now do an actual inventory of what you do know. I am not a real film person, but there are directors that I know a bit about, Kurosawa, Buñuel, Scorcese, Almodóvar. I know some actors' work. I have had tangential exposure to some film theory and criticism and know some basic concepts. All of a sudden film is part of my scholarly base. Voilà. If I had to talk about a film tangentially in a book devoted to something else, I could do it. If I had a year's sabbatical, I could learn enough to be a competent person by filling in some identifiable gaps.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

Sometimes it's very hard to convince students that they actually know a great deal about a great many things. Even the first-semester students have areas of basic expertise (to coin a near oxymoron) that they are hardly aware of.

It's interesting when they become aware of because it changes how they think about the things they are studying. They realize that they know how to evaluate the objects of their basic expertise, and that that means they can develop basic expertise in evaluating the things they study.