Met with my Environmental Lit professor today to go over a short essay I wrote and turned in yesterday, and I had a realization:
Grad school is one of the first times in my life when I feel like I’ve been able to actually take constructive criticism. In elementary and middle school, I was “gifted” and so was just praised for being “naturally” talented at school things. In high school, I felt really out of my depth almost all the time, and felt like a failure when receiving any kind of criticism. In college, I loved that I could sorta start over, but then felt anxious all the time again because I felt pretty average compared to my peers, and so never sought help for...anything (schoolwork, additional financial help, mental health, etc) since that would feel like a failure.
But in grad school, I feel like...I know where I fucked up in the past. I’m trying not to make the same mistakes now. If I make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. The individual attention from interesting professors who care is so much better than a dehumanizing lecture hall (and small recitation sections don’t necessarily make this better, because the poor grad student is often underpaid and overworked and not that great—speaking as a poor grad student who’s trying to be better than any TA I had as an undergrad). I’m getting better at asking for help, and accepting the help that’s given.
There are absolutely some toxic things about grad school that need to be remedied. But there are some highlights, I think.
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To professors in the position of designating textbooks: Choose one textbook. Unless multiple textbooks offer substantially more educational value than the one textbook, please consider how your choice will disproportionately affect students in poverty. With minimum wage at $15/hour, for example, a student has to work a full 7-hour shift to afford that additional $100 textbook. Is the additional educational value worth that much? Or can it be substituted by journal articles available free through the school library subscription?
https://medium.com/the-brain-is-a-noodle/why-custom-textbooks-are-definitely-not-the-cheaper-option-6f9b1cf59f49 / #AcademicChatter