A reference to fellow grad students' "Musings on Library Education" at Life as I Know It got me to thinking about what I'm learning from my iSchool experience. Granted, I'm only 1 year into it, and I've only taken 8 classes. One of those was in the French department and another in the College of Education, so I've only taken 6 in the iSchool. So, what is it like? How useful is it?
Unlike Jennifer, I don't need the degree, so I wouldn't feel compelled to stay with the experience if it truly were a waste of my time. But I do agree with her that it's ok to blow things off: worrying about grades or how well you do in a class is absolutely not a priority. I think, however, that she is coming at that conclusion from a very practical perspective -- she just can't always give it 100% and that's got to be ok because that's life. For me it's more a matter of conscious choice not to waste my time. It's the most valuable thing I possess. If I am going to spend a considerable part of it in a class, I'll do my utmost to get as much as I can out of the class, but if I find that some assignments do not further my goals and are not worth (to me) the time that they will take to complete, or to complete well, I am quite willing and able to draw the line at how much energy I put into them. I am there to learn and I pretty much know what I want to learn about.
I like choice. I love choice. I make choices all the time, very consciously. Today I'm choosing very carefully where to put my energy, my time and my attention. Here on this blog, for example. I am spending time this morning *instead* of doing other things that I could do, because I think that reflection is important and the blog facilitates that. Later today I'll go to the Library and listen to a presentation about a software product that the Library is considering buying, a product that I think has very important implications for the Library's ability to serve its clients/customers/patrons. And I'll pay a visit to my mom's doctor's office to secure some meds for her. And I'll work on a draft of a paper for the Center for Intellectual Property (effect of mass digitization projects on copyright law and policy). Among other things. But those are my priorities for today.
School fits into this quite well. I have learned valuable things from every one of my classes. The structure works well for me. I love the reading and writing. The thing I'm disappointed in is the lack of opportunities to discuss. Not the focused discussion of a classroom, but the wide-ranging discussion that informed individuals can have when they share a common core of information and values and places to be in and just pass the time talking. This is no doubt partly my own fault. I don't spend a lot of extra time at school. It is just one part of what I do and so I'm in and out of the building. I need to hang out more. But I think it might also be due to a lack of the place element. There's no place really *to* hang out at the iSchool. The IT lab is the only place that comes to mind, but that's because Carlos works next door and is likely to be there and so I know I can usually find him there, and other people too (people who are into technology, which, incidentally, was sort of the lead-in to Jennifer's post on Musings), but really, we need a lounge, a nearby Central Perk, or some place where we know we can show up and others of us will be there and we can talk. I think I'll work on this.
Now it immediately occurs to me that maybe this could be accomplished virtually. I think it could, but not exactly in the same way. Online conversations have this linear quality that inhibits seeing the big picture, for me anyway. While it might be nice to set up a virtual place too, I really want a real place. Yes, I'm going to work on this.