The past two weeks, I have had a hard time concentrating on any one task. It’s the point during the semester when several papers and projects are coming due at once. I’ve started drafts of many of them. Try as I may to concentrate on one at a time, my subconscious never seems to be working on the same one as my conscious brain. In the middle of a sentence about computational thinking, I suddenly realize one more thing I should have said about digital curriculum resources. Oh, and that thing I just read about qualitative research methods? I really need to write down the way in which it’s connected to that study of abstraction I read last week.
I was reflecting on this phenomenon tonight, and thought of a blog post I wrote many years ago — on November 22, 2010, to be exact. The following text comes from the post, where I’m trying to decide why so many university professors wear similar clothes day after day:
“Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most brilliant minds in my field. My bosses are the rock stars of mathematics education. And I can tell you the one thing they have in common, the one thing that has set them apart: they are always thinking. Always. Their minds work like conveyor belts; when they solve one problem, all the rest are waiting on the belt. They never stop thinking about their work.
This means that the rest of the things that us average joes think about — like the clothes that we wear — don’t get any time in the conscious brain. Academians just operate on autopilot. You know how, when you wake up late and have to rush out, you end up having no memory of choosing your clothes? I imagine that it’s like that for academians all the time.
People in all walks and phases of my life have branded me as a smart person. I was on top of my class in high school, and no one was surprised when I graduated from college cum laude or got accepted to a prestigious graduate school. Many of these people are probably expecting me to get a doctorate someday. It’s just what smart people do. But this line of thought has only made me more sure that academia is not where I belong.
The people that succeed in academia are the ones that choose their clothes on autopilot. I, on the other hand, go to autopilot while I am running so that I can spend that time deciding what I will wear that day.
I could never become a research scientist or professor. I love cognitive science and I love math — but I also love the moments when I can stop thinking about them.”
Are you laughing? I laughed. I wonder when I crossed the line. I never stop thinking about math and cognition and learning now. But hopefully that means that I have ended up where I belong.