Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pitfalls to dodge

Was originally going to call this post "concerns for the semester," but that seemed rather boring. I've got two.

Avoiding the arrogance of assuming I "know" how to work in the field of education without formal training.

As an autodidact in the subject, I'm painfully aware that I can't assume my project will be grounded solidly in the scholarly conventions of that field. I've been reading as much as I can, talking to as many education researchers as I can find, and will try to keep this at the top of my mind throughout the semester; I'm an engineering student exploring the field of education, not yet a full-fledged education major. (I say "yet" because... well, there's always grad school.)

Not ballooning into a swiss army project.

As a polymath, I tend to take on jack-of-all-trades projects that blend my many interests, and this is no exception. Engineering, writing, graphic design and illustration, education, psychology, anthropology... this can go tripping across many boundary lines, but I need to remember that this is a humanities capstone and is based in the field of education. A million things can tie into it, but it's grounded in the field of education. (See concern #1 above for why I'm worried about that.) Better to focus on doing one small thing well than a thousand large things badly. This project is not my only chance to work in this field; it is a beginning, and I need to remember that (and forgive myself accordingly).

I'm psyched. This is what I've been waiting for for the last three years. (Gah, I'm counteracting #2 already.)

Soon I'll be meeting with Dee (our awesome librarian) about getting source materials for the research portion. As I wrote in an email to her,

I'm having a tough time finding things at the intersection of engineering and education - I can find education papers about engineering, and some research on engineering courses, but not much in the way of scholarly reflections by engineers themselves on engineering education and pedagogy.

I'm in an education-focused workbuddy trio with Char (how college advertising can attract women to engineering schools) and Simon (how non-engineers learn engineering in FIRST robotics). Need to revise my proposal tonight and meet with Gill and Brian soon since ECS is their baby (they are the professors who created the course), but otherwise things are good to go.

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