Wow, it’s already the second day of September! Where has the time gone? *Looks under cushions* Oh, there it is. It was just playing Hide and Seek.
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Labour Day weekend. Hope that you’re having a great long weekend so far.
And it’s also that time of year – soon many students will be heading back to school! I wish you (both students and teachers) a challenging and insightful year. Hope that you learn many useful things in your classes.
I’m not going back to school. I graduated with my Psychology Honours B.A. in 2005 and began working full-time immediately after graduation.
Yet even to this day, so many people who meet me for the first time and want to get to know me better ask, “Are you a student?” or “Are you in school?”
I guess my innocent face makes me look younger. (My hair conceals those little devilish horns sticking out from the top of my head.) And they’re always surprised when I tell them that it’s been some time since I graduated from university…
In today’s Smorgasbord Sundays post, I reminisce about my university days and a ‘fight’ with a psychology professor.
The photo I took came from my very first psychology textbook. It was full of interesting studies, charts, and photos. Phew, and the glossy pages plus hard cover made it really heavy to carry around to classes. (I commuted to campus, so the long bus and subway rides sometimes felt like a workout!)
This book was for an introductory first-year university course, so it did a good job at giving students an overview of tons of different topics. This wasn’t my favourite psychology textbook for school, though. It only skimmed the surface.
The best textbooks (and psychology courses) were the ones in my third and fourth years. No only did I get to dive deeper into the material and question everything more instead of just absorbing information, but I also loved being able to apply what I learned to my daily life.
Plus since I was a Psychology Honours student, in my fourth year, I devised and conducted my own study. In case you’re curious, I studied adult humour in comics, gender, and religious affiliation.
In my four years as a psychology student, the one thing I noticed was that whenever textbooks talked about humour, the subject was mentioned only very briefly compared to other topics like psychological disorders and memory.
In my thesis course, it seemed like everyone wanted to study learning and memory. It made me feel like an oddball.
When it was my turn to present the research proposal to everyone, a lot of my classmates thought it was a good idea, but the professor oddly wasn’t as open-minded. In fact, after class, she pulled me aside and asked me to consider studying something in the field of cognition instead and to completely scrap the idea of studying humour!
This caught me off-guard because the whole point of our thesis was to try to do something original and to uncover something new. (Whether you do or not is another concern, but you’re supposed to at least try to do something different instead of just replicating a study.)
The professor told me that she had been teaching the thesis course for over 20 years (or something like that. I can’t remember the exact number, but it was a long time), and she said that only one student studied humour. It was her tone of voice that made it sound like studying humour isn’t a topic that is highly respected. Bull poop!
Without missing a beat, I just told her that’s exactly why I think it’s a great topic for me to study. It’s understudied, there’s more room for me to conduct an original study, and humour is a topic that affects everyone, regardless of culture, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
Since my research proposal fulfilled all the assignment criteria, she couldn’t actually deny me the opportunity to conduct my study. But, oh, at every single turn, she tried to dissuade me. It was a very strange feeling because it made me respect her less.
I usually go into classes with the utmost respect for professors, and then they can win or lose ‘points’ along the way.
To actively discourage someone from studying something they’re passionate about without any good reason other than that ‘not many people study it’ is extremely foolish and closed-minded. It’s like telling a horse, “Go explore the meadow, but put on these blinders and only trot in a straight line.” This horse decided to gallop in a zig-zag and fling the blinders off.
When I look back now, I’m glad that I kept fighting to study it. Fighting for what I believed in was a great lesson in itself, and that experience (although tough at the time) is something that I now remember whenever I’m going through a personal challenge in my life or at work. It reminds me that sometimes you have to go with your gut if you feel it’s right, regardless if it’s easier to fold under the constant pressure of others.
Okay, when I sat down to write this blog post, I had no idea how long it would become. And I could literally keep going on and on and on. Energizer Bunny here…But it’s a good idea to save some for another time.
In case you’re curious to see a close-up shot of the page from my first-year psychology textbook, here it is.
I chose this section because I liked how it reminds me that “there is a positive correlation between income and subjective feelings of happiness, but in modern, affluent cultures the association is surprisingly weak”.
In case you’re still curious, this is the first-year textbook that it’s from:
Now I have some questions for you:
- Are you heading back to elementary school, high school, university, grad school, or work?
- What subject in school did you enjoy the most? (My favourites were psychology, sociology, English, and instrumental music.)
- What’s your major? Or, what would you major in?
Happy Sunday, everyone!