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Working On WA Day - A Before-Travel Blogpost

Working On WA Day – A Before-Travel Blogpost

What is WA Day? Here you go.

Hello – I used to blog regularly and now it seems I stumble across here on my way to either podcast, post radio assignments, attend classes, try to catch up with family and friends, grade essays, write exams for classes or keep the 365 Days of Philosophy blog updated. Hello blog!

I love blogging and I do feel the gap in my life when I’m not keeping my writing skills up, particularly the posts that go into research. But a few nasty hits behind my back got me very, very down, and then work and then even more work got in the way…

…and then it seemed like anything I wanted to write about just got older and older as I got distracted by more important things, until they no longer seemed relevant to anyone. And this blog is a lot about writing for others to read, after all.

There was even a bizarrely late request to help out with an event I’m not attending, and it was on the tips of my fingers to respond with “Thanks for the offer, it’d be great to help you out – but I’m working so hard that I only have one afternoon free for the next two weeks to interview anyone… and shouldn’t you have asked me long before now if you wanted my help??”. Maybe I’m not the only one overwhelmed by deadlines. I should take heart by that, perhaps

The recent effort to fundraise for the SSA by doing 24 posts in 24 hours took a huge amount of my time to pull together and sadly I don’t think I’ll join in again in the future due to the hard work/final result ratio. At least I can say I tried to help, and I’ve supported other bloggers in the past in that regard and will do so in the future. I guess that got me down about blogging in general as well.

(And here I was thinking “if you make this blogpost overwhelmingly depressing, you’re going to not going to have anyone read it”, but that’s how things just are at the moment.)

For example: I nearly wrote a lengthy response to this article about students asking for help with science homework, as I had a student ask me to do their “Social Studies” homework – An Open Letter to Science Students and Science Teachers by Carl Zimmer.

I want to emphasize that when a writer like Skloot says something like this, you should not take it to mean, “These awful kids! They’re interrupting my soap operas!” Skloot has dedicated a lot of her time to helping young students delve into the science in her book. In addition to speaking in person at schools, Skloot has posted a lot of resources on her web sitespecifically intended for students. And yet Skloot reports getting three or four desperate pleas for personalized help each week.

Over the past few days, I continued this conversation on Twitter and email and found other scientists and writers with the same experience. And we all felt the same consternation. We want to help students learn about science, but we don’t have time to handle floods of requests, and it doesn’t feel right to supply emails that students can simply cut and paste into their assignments, when they should be learning how to learn from reading.

I was thinking of one solution to such problems, and it’s what I nearly did for a student who wrote to me last week: write out a general response and ask that it be made available to all students in the class, rather than just one, and make sure that they reference it correctly using the url for the website. Skloot’s FAQ is a great one, for example.

….And then work inevitably got in the way and I sincerely hope that the student found the help they wanted in the end… I just realised that writing an answer to them was going to mean I was up well past midnight when my classes require me to be up at 5am most mornings in order to get to the campus, and a half-hearted, rushed answer written post-midnight wouldn’t really help them that much anyway. At least, that’s my excuse. Is it a good one? Sleep evades me at the best of times, let’s face it.

It seems like things are going awesomely, and generally things are indeed great, but it’s not always the case. There’s hurdles to overcome and I’m not going to let bad things get in the way of what’s most: getting work done and helping others. It’s what I signed on for. I think that should be respected. Unfortunately it means I have to be a lot less social than I hoped to be due to people not respecting that, but as long as work gets done, I think that’s just what happens. That sounds rather tragic when I write it out, but it’s how it is.


It’s been quiet on the blog recently, but I assure you there’s a lot of work that’s been going on for my classes – here’s a sample:

listen to ‘What are you doing for WA Day?’ on Audioboo

Work has always been the rails that keep me on track in the past, and it brings me joy. I was looking forward to this week for example. I’d hate this to turn into a travel-diary, as it comes across as either a) complaining about luggage or b) blah, blah, look what I’m doing blah blah you’re not doing the same blah blah – but this is what’s happening in my life right now.

What to pack… I don’t know. I usually throw a handful of books into a case, but I’ve kind of read everything I wanted to catch up on. Perhaps I just need more enthusiasm about it. I’ll post later today what I eventually decide.

Not sure how to finish this, but it’s kind of finished anyway. I’m going to go do some exercise to cheer myself up and prepare for a very early flight across the country.

Here’s some other projects to check out:

Interviews for ScienceRewired

Interviews for 365 Days of Philosophy

New podcast episode for Token Skeptic out later tonight. Please take care of yourselves readers, especially if you’re travelling.

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