Saturday, June 20, 2009

Okay, I've been feeling better physically. Let's see if that can translate into real work.

I did a lot of brainstorming on "Faith, Epistemology and the Ideal-Type of the Sacred" last term. I realized I had two problems. The first was that, prior to MS, I had gotten used to being good enough that I could skip steps, like a smart algebra student. It had been so long since I'd done the steps, I'd forgotten there were steps. I kept trying to solve problems in my head. What I realized was that I did know the steps. I basically ask myself the same questions I ask students to help them flush an idea out of their minds.

The second problem is the cause of the first. The reason I could do it all in my mind is because I had more working memory. I could ask a question, remember it while I answered it, keep the answer in my mind, criticize it by asking a new question, rinse, lather repeat. That required me to hold a question in my mind and then answer it. Writing the question down allowed me to look at the question, so I didn't have to keep it in my recall. Rather, it was in my recall, but seeing it was a constant reminder that refreshed my recall whenever it started to sputter. Sadly, that happens all the time. I could focus most of my working memory on answering the question. Writing the answer allowed me to criticize it without holding it in working memory the same way. Basically, the trick is to do your dialectical thinking on paper or the screen. SHOW YOUR WORK. DON'T SKIP STEPS. Welcome back to fuckin' algebra.

So I think I solved the problems of the paper last term. When I was timelining last year, a progress chart helped keep me on track. Let's see what it does this year.