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DAY 1: my academic life, in 500 words

January 12, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

The second class of my doctoral-student career begins this Tuesday. It is 802: Advanced Research in Education and I feel pretty equal parts thrilled and terrified. Last year at this time being accepted into the program felt right about as probable as speaking at a conference or running an ultra marathon or performing piano in front of many many people. Oh wait…I did all those things too last year! Indeed a lot can happen in a year’s time and this past year has once more proven that…but back to the present. 802 begins the “serious stuff” of the EdD program–study turns from program orientation to the nuts and bolts of research, framework, paradigms, and methods and by early summer the hope is that we will no longer be wayward researchers, searching for our Nirvana but will have dissertation Mecca set in our sights and begin mapping out the course we will take to arrive. (Sorry…terrible religious cross pollination. In trying to make metaphors I think I may have only succeeded in being a bit offensive. Oops.)

The imminent sage (who also happens to be my adviser) Dr. Siemens, recently counseled all of his proteges to begin a daily writing habit of 500 to 1,000 words so that we can begin to find our groove in writing every day, thus acclimatizing us for the mountain ascent that will be our dissertation. I’ve got a languishing blog I’ve been meaning to update on a more regular basis and feel somewhat deep shame that I’ve been all talk and no action…I’ve been tasked by someone with lots of experience and wisdom to make writing consistently my new addiction…yep, it’s all M.F.E.O.

…So here begins my 500 to 1000 word a day writing challenge. And yes, I will be legalistic about it and yes, I will post stupid stuff to bulk out my word count and yes, the majority of it will be totally trivial and have poor grammar and run-on sentences and fragments galore and APA? nope…this is all going to be way too informal for anything remotely academic–think twelve year old girl musings more than the Theory of Relativity but…I’m going to do it. And it’s going to be kept in the glorious blog-o-sphere and we’re going to see if indeed quantity can birth quality.

On the plus side, I already love to write and love when I actually take the time to write consistently because writing helps me think through circumstances, process ideas, and sort out all the disjointed crazy thoughts that are running through my head. If the pre-course readings are any indication, the next few months are going to get very mind crazy because not only are we dealing with the practical how questions of researching, we’re dealing with the decidedly unpractical why questions of researching. How feels wonderfully formulaic and neat: ask question, get answer, code, analyze…why is complex and layered and seems like it could, through the vast web of connections and networks, find you face to face with something you never even thought applied or was a motivator yet might wield the precise key you’ve been searching for. Super exciting, no doubt, but also a rabbit hole that could all end in nothing.

If all goes well, perhaps this writing regime will even help me work on formulating a research question, or five, so that come spring the howling polar vortex that seems to fill my soul whenever I think about my dissertation can instead be downgraded to just a mild hurricane and I can have some ideas which paths really are the ones I should follow and which ones are not for me, or not for me-right-now.

So…here’s to the journey and the hope that through it all something will indeed emerge.

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