I don’t understand people who think that knowledge alone is enough.

Situation: Thesis to edit.

Response: Edit what I am given.

This is supposed to be a simple process.  I am given thesis, I edit said thesis, give it back, I am paid.  With a couple internet meltdowns and a teacher refusing to accept the finished project from the student I edited it for because of a lack of sources (among other grammar things that I should have caught and felt like a nimnol for not catching), it turned into an unholy mess.  Once I fixed the grammar errors that I should have caught, like the use of contractions in a formal paper and the confusion of the that/who pronoun usage (what can I say, I was tired and burnt out and had spent ten hours struggling to get the twenty-five paper understandable, much less grammar perfect), I sent it back to him.

Then he dropped the bomb on me: he had no idea what he needed to cite.  He thought he only had to cite direct quotes, not all the facts.  So, I went through and inserted the BARE MINIMUM of footnotes (darn you Chicago!!!!) that he needed to make his paper his own, not plagiarized.  He almost popped a blood vessel.  He actually said, “I didn’t know that I had to cite everything I learned in class.”  I explained to his the process of academia: establish your sources (who established themselves with their sources), and you become more credible.  Your conclusions, however, remain to be judged.  Perhaps this is an over-simplified view, but it’s the basic system.  I even agree that there is a degree of convoluted structure within this system, but I by no means feel it is completely useless.

Why?  Because our history defines us.  I may think that because I grew up being taught by teachers trained in the critical school of New Historicism, but I think there’s more to it than that.  I’m also a Classics minor (officially degreed and everything now), which required me to study many of the foundations of Western culture through the delivery systems of civilization, religion, and literature.  I loved history before I went into college, I find it even more beautiful now.  History makes us and breaks us by our own decision to ignore it or accept it.  Sometimes we don’t even realize when we accept it, but that’s the moment we move forward.

And that’s why I don’t understand people who think knowledge alone is enough.  Application of knowledge isn’t either.  Awareness of where that knowledge comes from goes hand in hand with those two.  Without that, society means nothing.  We can become nothing.  I am nothing.  With it?  With it, the entirety of the given universe is open to me, because my past is no more than a thought away.

The guy eventually added all the sources.  It was a crappy list of websites that didn’t do much for his credibility.  He didn’t really learn this all-important lesson.  Thankfully, I got reminded. I hate that I wasted all that time editing for a grade rather than for a sense of pride in scholarship or a passion for the subject.  I hate that I had to deal with the exacting demands of a teacher who I’ve never taken a class from and never will.  I hate that I had to be reminded.  It was a bitter moment, re-realizing what my past meant to me.

Knowledge alone will never be enough.  I’m glad for that.  Because I really like the people that populate the past, and because I’m very ready to bring the small pieces of them that I keep company with into the future.

Advertisements