After meeting with my advisor regarding the end of this Masters project of mine, something had occurred to me that I didn’t consider prior to beginning this project. As I began to ponder this subject, I realized how pervasive the idea truly is, and how it may have impacted my perception of education. I have conducted an artifact analysis as part of my project, and in doing so, I knew recording my findings would require an organized graph or table of what these findings were, and how they influenced my conclusion. I emphasized to my advisor that I have struggled with this document, feeling unsure of the hows and whys of producing this table of information. He then said to me, “Why are you fixed on a spreadsheet? What makes a document detailing your findings less valid than a spreadsheet?”


Well…shit! I don’t have an answer for that? Why do I feel a spreadsheet is more representative of dispelling knowledge as valid? What makes knowledge valid, the way we convey and share it or the knowledge itself? In my quest for higher education, I have often been faced with inconsistencies embedded into my thinking patterns, having been exposed to them throughout my primary education. It’s an unsaid truth throughout the education community that testable, verifiable knowledge is the “pièce de résistance”, but rarely does the scientific community respond to text the same way. Maybe I’m oversimplifying, or maybe I’m stereotyping education as a whole. Still, I can’t deny that this narrative has been set, and those of us that are a part of the composition community know it all too well.


When my advisor asked me why I was set on using a spreadsheet, I wanted to respond in loud bursts of laughter, followed by tears of joy….”I DON’T KNOW!! I don’t know Professor! I don’t know why I felt compelled to use a spreadsheet, other than to say, I’ve been programmed to believe it’s an efficient way to share empirical information”


Thus, this experience has propelled me to ask this question: how many other students feel this pressure? How many students have attempted to avoid certain projects or subjects merely due to this stifling? Is the idea that information is useless unless it’s quantified prevalent? Does it in fact stifle learning? I feel as though I’m digging my fingers into a whole new study or project? Could be.


I’m interested in gathering the views of other students and professionals regarding this question. If you have anything to add, please do. As most of us life-time geeks know, it is this kind of inquiry that inspires a lifetime of learning, and Lord knows I’m no where near finished with this journey. I’m convinced I very likely never will be, as simple questions like the one I posit here seem to feed my starved brain, regularly.