Responding

Becoming Informed and Staying That Way

It has always been challenging to become informed, but as information proliferates and knowledge grows more complex and specialized, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay informed. Therefore, the struggle you are engaged today as a novice is not so much different than the struggle you'll be engaged in throughout your professional career.

Do not despair! More to the point, do not allow your incomplete grasp of all aspects of a situation (or of a text) to deter you from entering the conversation or providing your own best response at any given time.

In a sense, we are all in the same boat, even your professors--and increasingly so given the rapid expansion of knowledge and its transmittal in the Information Age. Embrace your membership in this community-college--which supports an evolution or development of response from basic to sophisticated; further, continue to approach your responses with the candor and openness of the novitiate and you'll go far in academe. You probably are that novice right now, and yet you are simultaneously an important voice whose point of view is valued. As a novice, you do well to approach your role as did the villagers of Ballybran, who entered the conversation out of desire and necessity and then busied to make themselves knowledgeable. Then, as you learn more about subjects, approach your knowledge with the same fresh approach as the learned Stanford anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who, in studying the villagers of Ballybran, was unafraid to look at her own area of expertise with fresh eyes. That is the nature of academic inquiry when it is functioning well.

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Introduction