Thursday, February 16, 2006

disciplinary translation

First round of the semester of student paper conferences. I'm sitting at a table with a junior literature major who's also pre-med, and freely admits that she's been putting more time and mental energy into her science classes. We're having a productive session nonetheless, when she turns to me and asks about her use of evidence.

"In other literature classes, I've been told to unpack things more. But I'm a scientist! I don't know what that means!"

We both laugh. I joke about a paper being just like a suitcase, then point to a spot where her "unpacking" was just fine, and reassure her that she knows how to do it. An unexpected reminder that problems of translation don't occur only between languages...

1 comment:

Jane Dark said...

Yes, indeed. It's funny about that. Then again, it's also funny how lazy people are about unpacking. We cover it in my class. "Yeah," said a student who didn't unpack many ideas in his essay, "but you know what I mean."
"Ah, but you can't assume that I'm your only audience, or even that your classmates are your only audience."

"Well, sure, but that's pretend. You're not really going to show these to people."

You can lead a horse to water, I guess.