This article was published in The Tab on 10 May 2016.
To anyone who knows me, it may come as a surprise that there was once a time when I actually worked hard.
Like, really hard. And by way of further obfuscation, I want to be absolutely clear that I love every single one of my supervisors past and present, and if any of them want to drop me an email with some tips on, you know, not failing my finals, that’s absolutely fine.
In my younger and more vulnerable years I used to toil dedicatedly for each and every supervision, and each and every essay. This was, quite obviously, before I realised how much of a waste of time they are. I used to toil over it all endlessly, poring through every book in the library, only to have a my work thrown back with no meaningful guidance as to how to make it better, just some blithe scribbles that I’d “completely missed the point”, or similar.
Character-building stuff, admittedly, but not a very useful education technique. See, there are two sides to getting better at a thing. First is knowing in what particular ways you are bad at that thing, and second is knowing how to methodically go about getting better at that thing.
Cambridge supervisors have a habit of telling you neither.