25 feb. 2009

I think about my scholarly competence as the trifecta of knowing one's shit, having ideas, and writing well.

The first is necessary. You can't even really have ideas without knowing something to have ideas about. There are people, though, who only have information and cannot really formulate ideas. We call them graduate students (that's a joke, for any of my graduate students who read this blog).

For information, there are various delivery systems. It doesn't much whether you learn something from a book or from somebody's lecture.

In the case of having ideas, however, the case is quite different. Ideas will not naturally occur with the acquisition of information. A lot of people need someone standing over them, saying: no, that's not even an IDEA yet. Or "That's the beginning of something, but needs to be fleshed out in the following ways."

The graduate seminar acts in exactly that way. There is enough information for the student to begin to know enough to begin formulating ideas.