Tag Archives: education

This, too, shall pass

blossoms framing Alice in Wonderland sculptureThe title is a reminder to myself. It’s family mantra, much like the Stark’s “Winter is Coming” (and at times equally as tragic). It’s an affirmation that nothing is permanent, as well as an encouragement to endure the rough patches and embrace the moments of joy, because both are fleeting and will be gone in another breath.

Tonight was night 2 of First Day of School for my new Ph.D. program (sidenote – I’m beginning a Ph.D. program in Education with an emphasis in Curricular and Cultural Studies. This will probably come up again over the next 4-ish years, just a guess). And the class for this night is basically “Welcome to this Ph.D. program in Education! Here’s everything you’ll be expected to know!” This is a great class to have; tonight I am overwhelmed, though, because I feel terribly behind in my base knowledge for my new discipline.

A large reason for this feeling grows from switching fields. I have a M.A. in English, which means I know how to read very well, and I can write well in the MLA format. Education is an entirely different beast. My reading skills transfer over, but the discipline uses APA, which is in many ways opposite to MLA, so I will have to re-learn how to write somewhat. And my experience with The Canon will only be mildly helpful.

I was sitting in class tonight, listening to the professors go over the expectations and the assignments for this class and realized how large the gaps in my knowledge are for this field. And I started to panic a bit.

So I’m doing what I always do when I know that I am spiraling into a dark pit even Hamlet would avoid, I’m writing. And I’m writing here, because if I’m getting a Ph.D., I have to get more comfortable with the idea of people reading me.

I have similar concerns and doubts with every degree. The rational part of me knows that I will succeed, and that Future Chandra will look back on Current Chandra and laugh at how stressed out I am in this moment. But I’m still Current Chandra, which means I have a tremendous amount of reading to catch up on so that I can stand in a place where I can be Future Chandra laughing at this moment some day. Because this, too, shall pass.

The Year of Adventures Continues!

Collecting books for readers in the reserve stacks, 1964I’ve cataloged some of my adventures here already, with the promise of updates to come. But I have a new one starting this fall.

I’ll be embarking on a PhD program!

The thing about this is that I’m moving from English to Education. English is still my first love; it’s just Education is proving to be more open to my crazy ideas. And I think that policy discussions surrounding Education provide more opportunities to make significant changes. Plus, it’s a PhD program, so I’ll still get to read a lot (They warned us it could be up to 200 pages per class per week assigned. I almost laughed out loud).

So soon I will be back in school and I can’t wait to wander around with stacks of books again! And getting buried in research! And writing papers! I’m super excited.

Here’s to the next adventure!


THATCamp Feminisms West: thoughts

THATCamp Feminisms West  My first thoughts:
*That was so much fun!
*Can we do it again!
*I’m so glad most of the people are local and I have excuses to interact with them more!

The conference, conversation, hacktivist, educational challenge space was great. I learned so much about data visualization tools, the many different ways that people are approaching education, particularly in the humanities, and the ways academics are embracing and modifying technology to educate students. I left the conference feeling inspired and awed by what everyone was doing and the ways which our interests connect and diverge.

And as interesting and intelligent as everyone is, everyone at the conference was extraordinarily nice and supportive and interested in everyone. (This is, sadly, often not the case when so many super-smart people are in 1 space)

I have so many new ideas/tools/articles/websites/people to go and learn more about. And I’ve met a number of undergrads I’m excited to keep an eye out for to see where their lives and interests take them.

The space was great, and the meeting was very much the best part of all cons – conversations about topics we’re jointly passionate about. I’m definitely in the post-con high of wanting it to happen again. Now. But I’ll be content if it simply happens again next year.

So Thank You THATCamp Feminisms West 2013! I had a blast! And thanks especially to Jacqueline Wernimont! The conference wouldn’t have happened without you, and you were delightful to chat with

I am so looking forward to seeing you all again. Sometime. Soon?


Sharing Knowledge

Amateur wireless station (LOC)Today, I had the privilege of introducing one of the students who started a blog to HTML. She knew about computer languages, to the extent that she knew you needed a language to get computers what you want them to, but she hadn’t thought about how you would need to have a language to make websites do what you want as well.

And now she not only knows that HTML paves the path to controlling what her site looks like, she’s already started learning the basics. I won’t lie; it was really fun watching her excitement at discovering how to create buttons and links. I felt bad reminding her about her homework.

But she did walk out with more information, and a broader field of passion, because she learned something new today. And she found the practical aspects, along with most of the information, by taking the initiative to search for what she didn’t know.

That’s what happens when we share the information that we have with those who don’t know about it. Will HTML change her life entirely? I don’t know. Some of the most poignant lessons in my life come from my Year 11 experiences. But with most of her life, and all of college, ahead of her, I may have only shown her the tools she can use to continue creating in yet another medium.

Watching her joy at playing with the basics for any website inspired me to really get back into increasing my coding knowledge. It will probably take me awhile, I do have a thing or two to do, but I’m excited to expand my collection of information. Because that’s what sharing knowledge does.

Grad School

Studying Math
Not what I'm applying for, but you get the idea...

So I’m applying for PhD programs, because I love school. A large percentage of my friends headed back to school this fall, resulting in more than a little jealousy, which is how I knew it was time to get over my hang ups an start applying.

I’ve conquered my first hurdle  — The GRE.

Now I’m faced with the annoyingly tedious, almost overwhelmingly so, task of completing the applications for the schools I would like to attend. Which isn’t as bad as 1am makes it feel.

So I’m researching the programs, finding out the due dates, emailing God and everybody — basically spending the best Wednesday night ever. Though the search through J.C. Hutchins‘ archive to remember how I’d discovered one of the schools on my list was fun.

Hurdle 2 should be mostly dominated before the end of the week. Which will begin Hurdle 3 — the waiting.

I’m not currently emotionally prepared to contemplate the final hurdles. But I will keep posting here, because why wouldn’t I?

Student writing

I work with some super creative and funny students. They make me laugh through most of work.

So I convinced them to share with everyone. And now you can laugh at their blogs too.

chandrafallinginlove (my students are frequently ridiculous and think it’s funny to use me as a source of entertainment)



And I’m probably going to convince more students to start writing. Because you need to read what they have to say. And they need to write more.

Update: Hooray! More students have started blogs! And I’m slowly convincing more of them. Soon there will be a whole collection of half collected ideas from the heads of teenagers.




SAT Essay

HappinessThe past few weeks have found me assisting some of the seniors from work study for the SAT. It’s been awhile since I sat for the exam, which has made the attempts to help the students improve their skills and scores challenging. Especially when it comes to writing.

See, the new (as it will be forever as far as I’m concerned) SAT exam includes an essay portion. Because the exam wasn’t stressful enough, the administrators opted to add one of the most stressful educational experiences – the time essay. In an effort to add insult to injury, they set the essay time to 25 minutes. For every part of the essay, including reading the prompt.

So the other day I wrote an essay in the time allotted answering an exam question.

I was pretty sure, when the students I was working with challenged me, that I could manage writing an essay in the miniscule time set. I haven’t had to write such a detailed essay since high school, but I’ve kept up with my writing. So I went home and sat down to meet their challenge. After a 30 minute search of the house for college ruled notebook paper. (it’s amazing what staples for life disappear when your focus changes)

After setting my phone alarm to chime when the allotted time had elapsed, I began the process of answering the question. I used the entire time, but I completed my 5 paragraph, basic essay! I had to keep track of the time so as not to run out, but other than that, the whole experience wasn’t terrible. I’m out of practice, but my other writing skills kicked in to help compensate for the deficits. Keeping my thesis in mind while I wrote so that I would cut down on editing time at the end proved more difficult than I remembered. This could also be due to the fact that I kept wanting to make the essay argument more complicated. I was a little surprised at how quickly everything about hyper-timed writing came back to me.

What I remain unclear on is how the SAT creators expect students who are not versed in the field of English and lacking in college experience to succeed. Especially if those students are not prepared through school and lack the resources to afford help.

I felt like I succeeded in my task, but the students still haven’t read and evaluated my essay. They’ve had help learning the SAT system, so I am deferring to their expertise in this matter. I’ll have to post how that conversation goes and what they decide to give me.

Discussing Special Topics in Calamity Physics with teenagers 1

Special Topics in Calamity PhysicsI facilitate a book club with the high school students at work. We started with Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell over their winter break. And we when finished it in Feb., I brought in several books for them to choose from for what we would read next. The consensus was Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.

The book is a fantastic first-person recounting of the narrator’s, Blue van Meer, senior year in high school on the U.S. east coast. It’s an interesting choice for the kids I work with, because there will be little common experience. Most of the students have lived their whole lives in the city and have little experience with life outside of Southern California or Mexico. Continue reading Discussing Special Topics in Calamity Physics with teenagers 1