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Learning styles, and the fallibility of grown ups - Sally's Journal
December 12th, 2005
10:40 am


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Learning styles, and the fallibility of grown ups

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Date:December 12th, 2005 12:19 pm (UTC)
Surely the very title of this posting suggests the fundamental issue?

You're talking about "learning styles", and a PhD isn't a qualification in learning. Having a PhD is supposed to show that someone can come up with brand new ideas and express them in a crisp, clear and concise way that's readily accessible and persuasive to others in the field.

It sounds to some extent as though you dislike doing precisely what a PhD is about.

Research doesn't have to be about blinkered prejudice in favour of one's own pet theories, massaging the facts to fit. On the other hand, it doesn't have to be about tremulously making a suggestion and being afraid to sponsor it and highlight its good points for fear of being wrong, either. Surely it's best to steer a path between the two extremes?

On the other hand, I may have completely the wrong end of the stick about PhDs, since I don't have one. (-8
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Date:December 12th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
A PhD isn't a qualification in learning, but (in science at least) you need to do a lot of learning, both about bits of your subject that you don't know and about how to do research, before you get to the point of having original ideas. (Unless you're a genius, and I have yet to meet one of those.) And of course one important way of learning this stuff, particularly the facts, is to go to your supervisor and ask. The problem is that you can then get into the habit of believing your supervisor knows more about everything than you do. I've seen plenty of people, including students I've supervised, fall into the trap of believing what their supervisor says when (s)he comes out with something superfically plausible but wrong. It is actually pretty hard to get right. In fact, you could even argue that gaining some intuition about how much reliance to place on information fed to you, not by the data but by other people, the literature and so on, is one of the key skills that you need to gain in the process of getting a (science) PhD.
Date:December 12th, 2005 02:33 pm (UTC)
You're talking about "learning styles", and a PhD isn't a qualification in learning.

It is. It's just not learning by being taught but learning by research.

In doing my PhD, I am learning about the way in which certain prepositions were used in Middle Welsh texts. I am not being taught about these things in the way I was taught Welsh as an undergraduate, but I am learning them by researching them.
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