Monday, November 10, 2008

Prof. Chip Bruce's Blog Offers Good Information for Grad Students, Anyone Interested in Community-based Learning

Chip Bruce is a University of Illinois professor in the Graduate School for Library and Information Science. On his blog he has posted a guide to "Graduate student survival." It's a must-read for grad students in any field. And even though I'm no longer a grad student, I still benefited from the links to a Randy Pausch lecture on time management and to a series titled "What They Don't Teach You in Graduate School."

I would add one thing to Chip's post: ask people with PhDs about their own dissertation writing process. When asked, I speak honestly about my own struggles writing the dissertation (and eventual success!). Many students react as if I am the first person who is saying that I also struggled...and survived. It seems that some students who are in the middle of writing their dissertations feel the need to "front." That makes everyone feel like they're the only one struggling. Talk to someone who will be truthful about the difficulties. Then, their tips about how they finished their project are especially empowering.

Other posts on Chip's blog that interested me:
  • A post on (informal education). I found the encyclopedia articles there to be very interesting and useful. I wouldn't have known about this site if I hadn't read Chip's post.
  • A couple of posts on torture. This interests me because it recalls a story of one of my students who worked at the Refugee Center. She was in the office when a refugee from an African country came in. He had been tortured by the government in his own country, escaped to another African country, and finally had arrived here. The student was obviously horrified by what had happened to him. But at the same time, our own government was torturing people and saying it was okay. Why wasn't that just as terrible? What a powerful testament to how Spanish community-based learning can open students' eyes to so much more than just "Spanish."
  • A look back on his year in Ireland. Our returning study-abroad students can compare and contrast their own experiences and feelings with his.

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