If you go online, there’s a lot of great blogs for PhD students and early career academics. There is the Thesis Whisperer, a huge compendium of PhD awesomeness. Tips on writing, worksheets on structuring a thesis, what PhD student’s tend to go on and do, articles entitled ‘How To Survive the Thesis’ are there in abundance. There is the Guardian Higher Education Blog, more focussed on new policy developments in higher education policy, but also features the Anonymous Academic section, where we confess our secret desires and angers.
Alternatively, if I want some light relief from my work, I’ll look @lolmythesis, a hilarious accounts of what grandiose PhD thesis titles actually mean. This isn’t knowledge entombed in an expensive book. It’s free, it’s easy to read and its written by people who you could imagine are human beings, not erudite professors who only have two office hours a week.
As a PhD Student, I love these things because they remind me I am part of something much bigger. A community of normal people like me who have the same frustrations, anxieties and passions I do. My thesis writing might be lonely, but these blogs remind me the university doesn’t have to be.
Yet try as I might, I can't find an online community, or presence that deals with undergraduate woes in the same way. It’s not that undergraduates don’t write about their experiences. They do, and you can see the diversity here.
But you don’t have a blog called ‘The Dissertation Whisperer’. There is no Twitter account for @lolmydissertation. You don’t have a blog that is run by students that has tips on academic writing, dissertations proposals, exam technique and doing research. Where do you go for this help? You have to go to menacing books, written by erudite professors.
I am not an erudite professor. I don’t have a PhD. Yet. But, as an ex-undergrad, current postgrad and post-graduate teaching assistant, I feel I have a good handle on both sides of the coin: teaching and being taught. I can empathise with undergraduate life; I only left it three years ago. I see some of the other side -the life of a lecturer - you do not. I have written essays, and I have marked essays. I have asked for help on exam technique and given help on exam technique.
This is what this part of Slow Streaming website is about: thinking about what academic work is, how you can do it well and how you can take more time over it. This is Slow Studying, and we have made a page where we are compiling all the blogposts, tips, strategies and examples that have helped us study more thoughtfully. Joe is writing it because academics are now slowing down. They have a manifesto written in a wonderful book called the The Slow Professor. There is no book called ‘The Slow Student’. Yet so much of what staff are doing to make higher education more pleasant, enjoyable and less hectic applies to students. So many strategies, tips, and support which you can easily apply to your own experience at university. Find them here, use them or don’t. Comment on them. Contribute to this blog. Remind us about life as an undergraduate. Slow the hell down.