In the above photo I am ahead of a group of friends. We are all headed towards Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, MA after a snow day party at our dear friend Doug’s place. This happens to be one of my favorite portraits because it really illustrates one of the experiences I cannot articulate well with words. Pictured above is what it can look like when I struggle. Here I am in a winter coat, scarf wrapped around my face, wool hat, and trudging through snow. I am really having a hard time in this picture and when I struggle I push forward. I have to streak with progress when I can. Even if it means that I end up alone and ahead of the group. I can remember my cheeks, my breathe, and my exhaustion from this evening. I was definitely having a hard time. However, when I struggle it does not necessarily mean I am falling behind. In this case, I am struggling ahead. My wife and friends are behind me and I am happy that my wife took a photo of me to capture an image of this experience. This photo illustrates an experience I frequently have in life.
As a person goes forward in search of knowledge – they struggle. Part of my path towards a PhD is a struggle. It does not necessarily mean that I am falling behind but may potentially mean that part of my thinking is surging ahead. I really think this is the case in my recent conference rejection. I submitted a piece on how computerized voices may have an unintentional emotional nudge in the learning process when we access learning materials through text-t0-speech technologies. The conference rejection included comments such as “I would be eager to see this paper at [our conference]” . However, my technical chops and the time I put into the proposal reflect a valid rejection of the work. I think in this case my conceptual understanding of the role of emotions in learning surged ahead of my technical capacity to describe my theoretical understanding. My ideas were surging ahead of my capacity to describe them. I knew this when I submitted the work. I submitted the work as a ‘Work in Progress’. However, it seems there is more work to be done than progress to describe associated with this facet of my research as judged by the reviewers.
I will persist and refine the work and eventually my capacity to describe my work will reach my theoretical understanding. I will resubmit and eventually share my insights with the world. Today I will struggle ahead. Tomorrow I will reach Massachusetts avenue and wait patiently for my friends and loved ones to arrive. When they get there I will have caught my breathe and we can continue on our journey. Just like I did on the evening pictured above on a cold dark winter evening in MA.