10 April 2009

For the Love Of Metaphor

From (Mis)Adventures of a Neurotic Knitter

I drew this in my critical qualitative inquiry class. Our class was focusing on how to run focus groups and in order to move into our discussion, our professor passed out packs of crayons and two pieces of blank paper with the instructions to create two visual representations: one of our current state of mind and one of the state of mind we were working towards.

The above is mine, a sailboat in the midst of a turbulent storm. As a graduate student, particularly a doctoral student, I am constantly told I am the commander of my own course. Upon reflection, I find that to be wholly untrue; granted, I am studying concepts and phenomenon of my own interest but the channels and paths through which I encounter those topics are largely controlled by my institution of learning. There are many forces I must contend with as I navigate my way through this experience: Department expectations, the pressures of a research 1 institution, faculty opinions, and the ever-present Program of Studies. In this picture, I am not lost but neither do I fully see my way clear to where my boat will land; the emphasis is on the idea of graduate school as a place of suspension, a journey from one place to another the attempt to set one's own course.

Strangely enough, I connected the lightning and the fishing stick figure, me, as such: I am constantly amazed by the people who surround me in this program. They are constantly making connections across readings, experiences, and classes. I imagine their synapses firing much like lightning striking, brilliantly charged ideas illuminating the sky. My own thinking, however, feels much like fishing. I struggle to pull my ideas from the depths, straining and pulling against the weight of the water and often finding I have brought forth a tire rather than anything innovative or insightful.

In our group of seven, we shared these metaphors and lamented the lack of space for this type of dialogue within our graduate school experiences. It was amazing how similar the emotions behind these metaphors were for each of us, even though we each inscribed them on the paper in wax in different ways. Amazing and somewhat sad; our class ends in three weeks and this was the first time all academic year I felt as though I came close to knowing these people.

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