Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lifehacks for Students

This past Thursday was my big appearance in Professor Lee's Language and Power class. She introduced me as an "uber-student," a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Ottawa's law school.

I told the students it was true that I went to those schools, but that when I went to MIT twenty years ago (okay twenty-five years ago), I was a terrible student. I procrastinated terribly, fell asleep in classes, almost never did my readings, came so close to not graduating it was funny, well not funny then, but funny now.

But at law school I was an uber-student. "I was the best student at the U of O law school," I told them. "I didn't get the best marks... but I was the best student."

To keep me on track and to give them something to help remember my points, I used a Powerpoint presentation. I've been reading that you shouldn't use bulleted lists in Powerpoint but instead use graphics, so I drew a bunch of pictures and began the presentation with Dave Walker's brilliant monolith cartoon.

That led into my first topic: Procrastination.

"I've been told that you're all really bright, but you have trouble producing," I said.

[If you click on these pictures, you'll go to Flickr pages with explanatory notes.]

Second Topic: Writing Papers

I've wrote about these ideas before in Maxing the Word Count and Writing a Paper: Interview Someone.

(Notice how I found a quote on "power" for them? I didn't ask if they recognized Pierre.)

Third Topic: Readings

I learn almost nothing from a lecture if I don't do the readings before hand.

It's like someone giving me directions when I don't have a map to follow. After "go straight two miles and then turn right" I tune everything out.

After I gave my advice, the students wrote down other things that block their productivity and we invited everyone's input on how to deal with those.

Stay tuned.

[The Powerpoint file]

[If you like the Dave Walker cartoon, he has many more. Here are just a few: 1, 2, 3, 4]

[P.S. They got the Sound of Music reference!]


Anisha Zaveri said...

Hey, I'm a student and I loved the cartoons! Especially, as I've just procrastinated all my work to sit and surf the net.

Nadia said...

These are great, Dave. And that Dave Walker cartoon sums up my life as a grad student with disturbing accuracy.