13.4.08

OBSERVATION OF THE DAY. There's more give-and-take at Rate Your Students about whether insisting on deadlines is or is not in the job description.

I repeat: learning to discipline your own procrastination/perfectionism is one of the most important things I can help a student learn. It's not just about being able to keep a job when they are done, though that is nice. It's about self-mastery, people. It's a lot like everything else we do here. It's about struggling with yourself and overcoming your resistance to expressing your ideas, regardless of whether those ideas are about math, the universe, the nature of it, Derrida, Dracula or a computer program. It's about learning to own and manage your own creative and intellectual processes; it's about forging a daily commitment to the intellectual work that we do either as scholars or as professionals. And no, I don't expect students to be perfect right way; that's why I give students a few grades they can drop to help them figure out that their normal routine of "Wait until the last minute, do a crap job, beg for more time" won't cut it.

Learning to manage your own work (setting your own deadlines, learning to keep them) is the difference between those who move up ladders, corporate and otherwise. It is the difference between finishing your dissertation and not doing so; it is also the difference between getting tenure and not getting tenure at research universities. Pretending you're above that sort of "deadline nonsense" just says to me that you are a sloppy and undisciplined scholar, not that you are producing golden eggs.

Again, all posts there, and all whinges there, are anonymous.

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