Friday, December 23, 2005

I read the this short Slate article and its been causing me trouble ever since.

[For those of you who do not follow links until convinced first that its worth your time, I'll provide you a brief summary of said Slate article: researcher Alison Gopnik believes that college students shouldn't sign up for courses dedicated to a subject but instead, sign up to help solve a designated problem.]

The reason why this article has caused me cognitive dissidence, is that as an "academic librarian" I am supposed to be dedicating some of my time to scholarly research. And while I have done some such librarianship, what I haven't done is define exactly what question I am trying to answer. This makes me quite the hypocrite since I have advocated on a number of times to students that defining a question is a good way to approach their research papers.

And I know that coming up with the right question is all-important when it comes to generating new ideas. The question doesn't even have to make much sense and it can still be useful. And sometimes its the simplest questions that demand the most considered answers. For example, What do you believe is true, even though you cannot prove it?

I'm thinking that its not so much that its the "unexamined life that's not worth living" but its un-questioned one that is unfulfilled. And so I'm reconsidering to replace the ritual of making a list of new year's resolutions with a short list of questions that I want to pursue.

1 comment:

Alec said...

Hey Mita,
I love your idea of having New Year's questions instead of resolutions, or maybe resolving to keep asking questions.

And isn't that at the heart of the profession too? I guess I'd say that the challenge and reward are in the process. (The new 'Ways of Knowing' class offered at the University of Windsor is perhaps a gesture towards that kind of learning.) Maybe it's not a question of one but in asking and exploring many you enrich yourself and your community. And isn't that a life worth living?
Putting the quest back in question, your friend, Alec