!! Discussion Questions !! Changing How I Do Things!
So, I’ve decided to make a particluar change to how I approach discussion questions while pursuing my uThM degree plan, due to some realizations I’ve come to recently.
You can read more about my unschooled degree here.
It didn’t take long (specifically two posts) before I was reeling with flashbacks from undergraduate school, with ridiculous and futile requirements to post discussion questions each week.
Don’t get me wrong. When I started my uThM, I was actually excited about the prospect of dialoguing with people online about the topics I was interested in, especially with a pointed purpose.
But, as soon as I got started, the true nature of online discussion reared its ugly head.
You can read all of my discussion question entries here.
Let’s face it, online discussion questions and responses in an academic setting are worthless. I’ve even read accounts of traditional graduate level seminars full of accomplished students who, rather than actually engaging with the subject matter, have come to their session with canned questions and responses, witty come-backs or a measured means of attack to prove a particular point rather than a desire to truly learn or teach something.
But, then again, discussion as a whole, is less than worthwhile in most forms. Staged debates are some of the worst, with debaters talking around each other’s points, assertions, never really dialoguing at all.
Online discussion forums are, by far, the worst to find genuine discussion, especially of controversial topics. Rarely have I come across a forum that does not aggressively antagonize posters. Christian forums top the charts. Fundamentals forums are dregs, bringing out the devil.
But, in academic circles, those same methods of communications fare no better in undergrad or grad school (yeah, I was in grad school for a quick hot minute before dropping out).
When I started the uThM degree, I quickly adopted a discussion element to my activities, noticing in my syllabi review at leading graduate schools, a requirement in each course.
Easily accomplished in our modern, technological world, right? Not exactly.
My first experience was posting on Quora. Believe it or not, in a week’s time, I received ZERO responses!
So, I shifted my focus to an actual online forum for my next question, which ended up being a three part question on a Science forum.
I was actually rather excited when I found this forum, as they had all the sciences represented, along with mathematics, and also philosophy.
I posted my detailed questions about a book I had just finished reading. Keep in mind, this was a book listed in Amazon under Science of Time, Cosmology, and Philosophy.
So, I received an almost immediate response – from the Moderator. Apparently, I was not framing my questions correctly, no one knew the book I was referencing, and he suggested I explain what the book was about first for post readers, before asking questions.
At the end of this response, I was told my questions were of a philosophical nature and, thus, my post would be dumped into general philosophy.
Not what I was hoping for.
In fact, this particular book argued that scientists could not answer several important questions because they were not taking into account the biological origin of our external world.
Yes, it is philosophical, but I was looking for answers and opinions from scientists. After all, the author was basically claiming that today’s scientists are at a dead end.
But, I rallied, re-posted a quick summary (as requested) along with my original questions and awaited replies. Of those received, a handful were flippant, half-hearted, snarky comments, and also another reply post from the original moderator.
He applauded himself for being right about the philosophical nature of my topic, and then went on to respond to my questions, but without actually answering any of them. In fact, he surmised, if the book’s author could not convince me of his theory within the span of an entire book, neither could those on an online forum.
What’s the point, then?
So, going forward, I’ve altered my uThM program by changing how I approach the weekly discussion forum posts. Rather than posting questions that will either not be answered at all, or will be replied to by supercilious individuals who have no interest in genuine discussion, I will instead form my questions, and then do a detailed and comprehensive online search to find the answers. I will post both my questions and the answers I found, along with those resources cited. I will then open the post for readers to comment and add to the discussion, if they see fit.
But doing it this way, I no longer require input from others directly and can move on without unnecessary or trivial interaction from the peanut gallery.
I will also be able to move away from the feigning discussions of pseudo-collaboration running rampant online and in modern academia.
I abhor perfunctory canned-ham diatribes that masquerade as academic discourse.
Ahh, indeed, the ermitic, isolated, solitary tendencies of a hopelessly misanthropic hermit monk!
I set up a Patreon page so others can join in and support my work as I pursue this Unschooled Master of Theology in Biblical Studies degree, similar to traditional graduate students and professors seeking grant money from individuals and organizations.
Your support and encouragement mean the world to me, and I’ve set up several options so everyone can afford to participate.
Even just a few dollars a month can go a long way, allowing me to buy books and other learning materials, partially funding travel and other necessary expenses during the journey.
Thanks in advance.
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