I have an essay due. I’ve sort of written it, but it is, for me, contentious. I am arguing against, or maybe for (I’ve talked myself into and out of my arguments a couple of times) something generally accepted without critical evaluation. I’m not going to go into the argument itself right now, but in order to help support my argument I am opening with a case study that is extreme and confronting.
And then in my head, i think ‘what if it’s too radical?’ and that’s immediately followed by the thought ‘if I can’t be a radical as a student, when CAN i be a radical?’ which again is followed by ‘I don’t want to fail my essay!’ But then I decided that as long as I hit my ‘aims’ (I really should double-check those!) I *should* in theory be able to write an essay as radical as I wish.
It reminds me of when I was an undergraduate. In my final-year abnormal psychology exam, we had a question about ‘borderline personality’ as a diagnosis. It spoke to my inner feminist, and my entire essay was about the overdiagnosis in women as a method of ‘taming’ them, when the same symptoms in men are accepted as entirely standard in men. I then went off into a segue into schizophrenia diagnoses and race (leaving aside the issue of diagnosis in the first place). It was all referenced and sourced, and apparently, something went right in that exam – I came out with a mark in the high 80s. It was a risk for me, although I’m sure that it was not the most radical essay my professors had ever seen, just like I’m sure that this essay (which will also be wonderfully referenced) won’t be the most radical my tutors have ever seen. It will however, be one of the best-referenced essays ever, so that no-one can say ‘where’s your evidence?’.
But still, it’s a risk. I don’t always get the marks I’d like to get, and in many ways, that speaks to me of being more cautious. But again – if you can’t be a radical when you’re a student, when can you be a radical? Rogers was a radical. We have a whole therapy system based on his then-radical ideas. If he was a ‘run of the mill’ thinker, I’d be studying some other type of therapy (and whilst in many ways that would be great, I kind of like this one a lot!). My point is – be a radical. You are only a student on your course once. If things speak to you, SAY them. As long as you can back up your argument, it doesnt matter if other people think you’re wrong. And you’ll learn something. I know I am. I found a lovely bit of Rogers that I would not have otherwise found, and thus, whatever my tutors think of this essay, I have expanded my knowledge.
Rogers was a radical, and so am I trying to be.
I’ll let you know if it passes.
- Carl Rogers on relationships/counselling (thesilentangels.wordpress.com)
- Client-Centered Therapy, Student-Centered Learning and User-Centered Design (gumption.typepad.com)
- Counselling Issues (liferesolutionswollongong.com)
- Teaching Argumentative (Persuasive) Writing (rightfulwriter.wordpress.com)