Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Tonight should be interesting.

I have barricaded myself in my room (figuratively, FYI) to ensure that I complete a "research" paper that should have been initiated months ago. Alas, it is due in two days and the only step in the process of completing the paper that has been met has been the collection of books to use as references. Recognizing that composing a “research” paper is going to leave me wanting, I have decided to go ahead and begin an Educated Soldier post (which, of course, you are currently reading). The idea is that, in moments of pure agony derived from the homework assignment, I will have this medium to blow off some accumulated stress.

I promise: the trip will be entertaining.

Before I really begin either endeavor however, I would like to take a second, digress, and express how “research” papers fail to be the least bit academically stimulating. Ostensibly, if I am in college and taking a class within my major field of study then I should, by all means, be conducting study into something into which I find interest. That part is true enough.

But here is the problem with “research” papers: they are really only a test of the student’s knowledge and proper utilization of the MLA formatting parameters. To ensure that I “do well” (as in, achieve a high grade) on the paper, I am going to choose subject matter that I already know substantially. The assumptions that I am going to conclude from my “research” were surely developed prior to conducting said research. In this particular case, I am going to write about the Kurdish people and their prospects of one day obtaining an autonomous nation-state of their own. The “research” that I will conduct will actually be a practice of finding information in books that I already, more or less, know. I can then use the books as cited references to flesh out a bibliography. However, the personal end-state will, predictably, be a very small – if any – accumulation of knowledge. Instead, I will just have regurgitated facts in order to receive the best possible grade from my professor.

Am I going to challenge myself and attempt to learn something new and risk the possibility that I may present “research” that makes possibly false assumptions and earns me a low grade? Of course not. Moreover, this is due on Wednesday; the time for challenging one’s self is long past.

Critical assessment on a larger scale would surely show that this research paper, and its futility, is sort of a microcosm for the western educational system.

Tangent over.


So this project began several hours ago. I started my research into Kurdistan and the Kurdish people around 4 P.M. It is now 11:45 P.M. This is not to say that I worked throughout the entire time period, though. My roommates returned home around 10 tonight and, having made great progress into my "research", I decided to give into their pressures and take some time off for drinking. It’s been a weird day. I woke up late this morning and took care of the puppy. I then ran about four miles. Afterwards, I dedicated myself to my academic requirements. Then I made time for social pursuits. Now, I am posting here which I have found also to be a valuable task. My roommate left temporarily but will return soon, and then – surely – I will return to enjoying myself socially.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, the reason is nothing more than self-congratulatory in nature. I pride myself on my ability to be well-rounded in all aspects of life (or at least those that I consider important) and tonight was a good example of my ability to juggle various responsibilities. But now that I said that, I pose this question: Who isn’t adherent to those tasks/undertakings/subjects in which they find interest? I genuinely want to assert a personal strength of character by claiming to be able to maintain a “balance.” However, the more I consider the nuances of this claim, the more I realize that everyone tends to find balances amongst the things they enjoy. I am just peculiar because I enjoy a very diverse selection of activities. It seems to me that- if one were to sample most people- the sample would suggest that most people enjoy either physical fitness or mental fitness exclusively. In the same sense, people tend to be social creatures or intellectual creatures; however, not both. I am grateful to have been endowed with equal interests in nearly all aspects of life. Now I can only wonder:
Am I granting my personal character too much credit or is my assessment of typical human psychology on point?

And, now – jumping back to the Kurdistan “research” paper that was previously discussed – I have to reassess the entire discourse that I earlier entered. It seems that my initial assessment of the process of creating an academic “research” paper was misguided. Or, more precisely, it was wrong in this particular case. I have found that during my effort of researching Kurdistan, I have learned a lot. As could be assumed from my argument against the value of “research” papers, this was unexpected.

However, my current assessment tells me that while one of my original premises was incorrect in my original discourse (as stated at the beginning of this post); it wasn’t the one that expressed the worthlessness of MOST “research” papers. The incorrect premise was the one that suggested that I knew anything about Kurdistan; I knew much less than I had supposed. However, I don’t think that this fact exclusively denies the possibility that my premise that “research” papers are typically academically worthless is a false assumption. I still believe that, had I given the paper more time in planning, I could have chosen a topic more familiar that I could have written without gaining any knowledge and still, unfortunately, exceeded all of the professor’s graded standards. While I still believe that “research” papers are both a flaw of the western academic process and also much too overused, I must also admit that I was able to exploit the hole in this (my own) argument tonight.

Well, I hope all of this was interesting to you. I realize that I have been more personal and inflective with my posts here since my return than I had been during Educated Soldier’s most successful period, but this is only because of my busy academic schedule. I expect whole-heartedly to return to a nature of posting that includes commentary on politics, the military, and the on-going situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Thanks for your time.

1 comment:

Diana said...
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