Research and Curiosity

A few days ago, my teacher Mrs. Cureton wrote a blog post in response to my blog post More Options and I meant to do this post earlier this week, but I got distracted by other stuff. I suggest you go read at least her post for this to make any sense. Go ahead. I can wait.

Her post made me realize some things.

One of the things is that we apparently have different definitions of the word “research,” which is okay because, as my friend Marisa said, we are human and our different experiences create different definitions of each word from the definitions our neighbors live by.

I don’t really consider asking questions and receiving answers from my parents, teachers, peers, and just people in general as research. I consider research as looking through books, typing stuff into a search engine and hitting enter, stuff like that.

So I would like to clarify what I said about not liking research. I don’t like having a stack of books beside me with no answer to the question I have. I don’t like typing a question into Google or Bing (and in some cases, Google and Bing) and not finding what I want. You see, if I have a question, it’s usually pretty general and I can find the answer rather quickly. For school, however, there are often specific questions you need to find the answer to. And more often than not, those questions require far more research than you would think necessary.

For example, rather than asking, “What did So-and-so tribe eat?” it’s questions like, “So-and-so tribe raised cattle. Did they ever eat it?” Now, while the second one is a yes or no question, which is unusual in that most question also ask for you to provide evidence, but for now it will stay yes or now. Should be straight forward, yeah? Two possible answers. You could guess. After all, you have a 50% chance of getting the answer right. But for the students not willing to guess, the work comes. Simple Google search should clear it up, yeah? “Did So-and-so tribe eat cow?” But this is often where I run into trouble. I’ll find an article that looks promising. I’ll click on it. All it states it that the tribe raised them, so I have the option of taking that as a, “No, they didn’t eat them.” and run the risk of that not being the answer, or I could keep looking. Me being me and liking a straight forward answer, I keep looking. Before I know it, I’ve looked through 7 articles, an hour has passed, I can feel other homework calling my name, panic starts to set in, and I still don’t have an answer. I could look through their religion and laws to see if there is anything against eating cattle, and if I’m desperate enough, I probably will. On the other hand, though, those things can have such confusing wording and 98%-99% of it won’t be relevant, so that’s more time out the window as I struggle through pointless words and growing exhaustion.

So now most of you are probably thinking that I could just ask Google what the tribe ate, like the first question asks. I know that’s what I’m thinking right now. And I might, but then I might not. I might type it in, find something that says they do or they don’t, and carry on with the rest of my homework. On the other hand, I might just say, “No.” and be done with the whole thing. Thank goodness I didn’t have to say anything about why they did or didn’t eat their cattle. But then I’ve just used 1 and half to 2 hours on this one question, I still have the rest of my homework to do, it might have been the first question on that work sheet, I’m angry, I’m tired, I’m not thinking straight, if I’m frustrated enough, I might start getting tears in my eyes or outright cry, and I don’t want to still have work to do.

And I know some people are probably thinking I should have spent 10 minutes on that question and moved on, and that’s probably what my teacher will say the next day, but between the fact that I have spent 8 hours at school, maybe some time at track practice (oh, yeah, that’s something I forgot to mention – this is homework on a night where track practice doesn’t end until 8 and I don’t get start on my homework until 9:30 or 10:00, with maybe the exception of some stuff I got done during study hall), and the fact that I really care about my grades, I’m not thinking that way.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that I don’t like doing research because most research takes too long and stresses me out, not I don’t like doing research because I’ve been told not to be curious.

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