random thoughts

Feb 16th, 2019 (edited)
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  1. When you're taught a subject in school/college, you might find you like that subject. And as you progress through your course, your tutors show you new things and your role is to learn them. Your tutors take you on a journey through that subject, and you follow their lead unquestioningly. But where you end up may be quite far from where you started, and that new place might not be as enjoyable for you, and at some point you may conclude that you've fallen out of love with the subject.
  3. But looking at it another way, you did enjoy what you were taught *before*, but you didn't enjoy what you are taught *later*. The subject was essentially redefined by your tutors as they led you from one place to another. No different than a manufactuer changing a recipe of a foodstuff...
  5. How often do we encounter this as shoppers? A commercial product we enjoy for years gets a 'new recipe', and it is no longer enjoyable for us, despite the fact that it has the same name and same packaging.
  7. A school subject is much like a commercial brand, as it is able to be redefined by those who control it. We need learn to unsee this branding, and focus on what we actually love, not on a brand that we feel pressured into identifying with, just because we enjoyed things from that brand at one time in the past.
  9. A related example of this for me is computing. Like a brand, computing is being constantly redefined by those who control the industry. I enjoyed what computing was in the 1980s and 1990s, and to some extent in the 2000s. But I dislike the direction it has been heading since the early 2000s. I dislike modern computing.
  11. I have said "I like computers" for most of my life, but this is increasingly sounding to me like an expression of loyalty to a brand, with an implicit acceptance of whatever is new, no matter what changes are made by the industry. I have my own understanding of what I mean when I say I like computers.
  13. Academia as a whole can feel similar. Grouping knowledge into "fields of study", there is an "accidental" branding at work there too.
  15. Universities look at subjects in a particular way. The language it uses has a history, and theories developed there follow a timeline. But how much of this is political? There are academic cultural beliefs about what is considered important, and those give research a direction. They create a frontier. The frontiers of knowledge are wherever academia decides to look, and as students of this subject/brand, we are expected to follow, to look in the same direction.
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