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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Demoralizing...

Saying, don't worry about it, don't be so perfectionist about your dissertation, can be demoralizing. Instead of having the effect of encouraging someone, it can send the message: "You won't be able to contribute to the field anyway." You aren't one of those great scholars who is going to make a difference. It would be condescending coming from someone like me.

4 comments:

Thomas said...

Yes, exactly! If the student expresses self-doubt, the supervisor should help resolve those doubts, not pretend they are irrelevant.

Doubts can be resolved in many ways of course. There may be something wrong with the student or with the student's ideas. Or the self-doubting itself may be the mistake, i.e., both the ideas and the student are fine.

But it is truly demoralizing to come to the realization that it doesn't really matter how smart you are or how good your ideas are.

Professor Zero said...

This is what I was always told and it is why I have such high anxiety levels about research, especially if I do it during the workday -- it is NOT what I am supposed to be doing and it IS a waste because it will fail, so how dare I do it. Reading so as to be up on things is OK because it benefits students but anything more is selfish, lazy, deluded, etc.

Professor Zero said...

Also: professors go around proudly talking about how when they were younger they thought they were the next Foucault and now they have become more realistic about themselves.

I find this really stupid, and I would tease out the subtext if I did not have to go to class. Where they got the idea they were mega-stars at 23 I have no idea, and why they are now proud not to be pressing ahead I do not understand, either. When I was in school the impression I got was that one did not plan to underachieve or feel entitled to stardom, but that everyone was a serious researcher at whatever their career stage was. I do not understand what is wrong with this.

Thomas said...

"Do not plan to underachieve nor feel entitled to stardom."

One of those slogans that should be "emblazoned across the entrance" of graduate school.