Life: July 2006 Archives

Dissertation Progress

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I've been making significant progress this summer on my dissertation. For my degree I need to have two papers deemed publishable by a committee of three faculty members. Normally this is done from papers written for classes, with significant effort put in during the summers in the first few years of the program. Because they changed the requirements during my fourth year, I hadn't been expecting even to think about those papers until after I was done with coursework in my first semester of my fourth year, so I was behind as soon as they changed them. Then I began teaching on my own for the first time, preparing a class outright that for the first few semesters needed significant revision as I realized some of what I was doing needed serious improvement to fit with my teaching style and what I thought a course like that needed to be like. Then the three professors who would have been my advisors left in one fell swoop, and the papers I had been working on didn't seem as worthwhile given what the new faculty who had replaced them were saying about my ideas. It didn't help my motivation. All that, combined with teaching new classes regularly, and having to spend a lot of time and energy with the developmental issues with Ethan and Isaiah, not to mention just ordinary family responsibilities and lots of grading, has contributed toward my being basically at a standstill with respect to my work for the last few years.

I did have one good idea for a paper two years ago, and I began working on it with a junior faculty member. That lasted only a couple weeks into a new semester with a new course to teach. I found it hard to reserve the time to write when I was finding it hard to reserve time even to get my class prep and grading done. Several times I tried to get classes I'd done before so I wouldn't have to spend as much time with teaching responsibilities, and then it wouldn't ever be enough to overcome my motivation barrier, and the time I could have spent working on the one paper idea I had would never end up being used for that. Last summer I'd even reserved half the summer to write, and then at the last minute my department offered me a course to teach during that time. We really did need the money, so I took it. Last semester I even ended up with three separate courses to teach, and I barely managed to keep up with teaching responsibilities even with having taught two of them before (in slightly different forms; a huge schedule difference made one very different, and the other had some new material to try to overlap some with the third course, which I'd never done before).

I can't resist linking to "Follower of Jesus" or "Christian"? by Danny Pierce. I happen to share a last name and a couple great-grandparents with Danny (i.e. he's my second cousin), but I'm not sure if we've ever met in person. I think we have, and he thinks we haven't, but even if we did it would have been more than a decade ago. But read his post. Can't you imagine me having written that post? When I read it, I kept thinking his style of argument and way of framing his conclusions sounded so much like my own style of argument and way of framing conclusions. Suffice it to say that I think it's a great post and well worth reading.

Update: See Danny's response to this post. Even his humor is along the same lines as mine. I am indeed his mother's mother-in-law's brother-in-law's grandson, as he is mine.



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