Input Threshold
I have read about 300 pages of scholarly readings on music theory and ethnomusicology in the last week. Looking ahead at my course syllabi, this amount of reading will be the norm for the next 12 weeks or so, on top of writing reaction papers and reviews. I tried to pace myself during the school week by reading at least one article a day, but even then I ended up having to cram 7 15ish-page readings into the last two days. What I have learned is that I hit a wall after about three hours of reading. I can only absorb so much of the material after an extended period of slogging through and taking notes on very wordy, abstract journal articles and book excerpts. However, I have also learned that when I take away some distractions (namely, the television), I can work pretty steadily for three hours and get a lot accomplished. This is good to know.

This entry is probably not very interesting to mos of my readers. It does, however, represent a crucial part of the life of a grad student: reading. As an undergrad I half-heartedly, distractedly read through textbooks. I banked on really absorbing and understanding the material during the lectures-- and usually that paid off. In grad school, however, when a teacher assigns a reading, she intends to discuss it as a class, not give the class bullet points about what the authors said. If I don't do readings for class, the potential for making a complete fool of myself by not knowing what everyone else is talking about increases greatly.

My aim in writing this entry is not only to give my readers a taste of grad school. I hope the act of writing this down will help me remember the hard work I've done this past week. I also hope that I will look back on this entry in later weeks to find that I'm working even harder to read and retain course material.

And, I'm blogging now because I have hit the three-hour mark for today. I've hit input threshold and can no longer read and retain any more information. But I'm not worried about it-- tomorrow is another day.


written by Ruthie @ 10:08 PM  
1 thoughts:
  • At 1/19/2009 11:14 PM, OpenID teasinglydiverse said…

    I am SO there with you! I also tend to hit a wall after about three hours. Our professors don't even really lecture, so if I don't know the cases (some as long as 20pg each) backwards and forwards class will be a horrible experience. The profs "teach" by using the Socratic Method - interrogating us about what we read.
    Fear of being called on is good motivation to read diligently, but after so long my eyes go cross-eyed. I'm writing this comment during a break to watch the Bachelor :)

    I like hearing what grad school is like!

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Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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