Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問

The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: My literature instructor has assigned a paper on a literary period I have tried to avoid at all costs. I just can’t relate to it. What mind games do you play to get yourself into a subject you would just as soon skip?

It always is satisfying to come across someone who appreciates the rigorous sport of thinking. Not everyone understands that the intellectual life is a series of tough mind games. If one is disciplined in training for these games—staying mentally fit and constantly practicing fundamentals—a rise in the ranks of thinkers can happen quickly, from amateur to semi-professional to tenured superstar. Give me five!

The particular mind game a scholar employs in the situation you describe is called curiosity. It is a mindset marked by inquisitiveness. Curious people tend to want to learn what they don’t know about a subject. They do not idly inquire after knowledge; rather, they are driven to know, and are willing to work to master a subject. Only then do they feel they can relax, having vanquished an unknown and been declared a victor over ignorance. Curiosity obviously isn’t for a lazy thinker; it requires constant whetting.

In really borrrring situations, such as when, say, a professor assigns an unpopular topic, perhaps a classical literary period, curiosity dramatically separates ordinary thinkers from A-teamers. The amateur thinker groans and wants to throw in the towel. The fit and agile thinker welcomes the challenge and starts stretching his mind in a new direction. Every writer of academic papers must decide where he fits on the spectrum of thinkers. If thinking and communicating your thoughts isn’t your game, pick another sport.

Posted at 2011-05-18 16:45:42

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