The teachers I admire the most are the ones who show me, by example, what it really means to learn. Matt Jadud took an idle comment I made and went deeper with the idea than I ever have. Now I have new words and new thought-paths for explaining zero-sum education and why that's not the kind of education that I want to have.

Onwards to the ass-kicking - my own, as usual.

It's been difficult to find graduate programs that I really, really want to be a part of - mostly because I'm still easily excited and have to carefully sift through a sea of I like! in order to see whether there are places that I don't just like, but love. Don't just love, but have to be a part of. This is not set in stone, but if I wait for it to be, I'll delay applying yet another year, and then another year, and then... by induction, I'll never go back to school again (not necessarily a bad thing). I don't know if I will go to graduate school next year, but I would like the choice. I don't know enough yet to say (need to talk with more people, visit more places more times), but here's the list of where I'm applying so far.

  • Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) - Masters program in Mind, Brain, and Education (and the Reynolds Foundation Fellowship, because there is no way I can afford this otherwise.) I want to learn how education research is done, and how to do it, and what our current scientific understanding is on how brains work to learn. The work of Howard Gardner and Eleanor Duckworth particularly fascinates me in this regard. (Dream project: Sugar Labs.)
  • The Harvard-MIT program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology (SHBT). It's a bit early to tell, but I think this is the technical PhD I would like to get. It won't give me a piece of paper that says "Doctor of EE," but I don't care that it's a little weird, less conventional; it's about what I want to learn, and this would let me be an engineering professor. This is the technology I want to push, the research that I want to do, the papers I would love to be immersed in. It's a foreign language to me now, but I am learning, and I can learn. (Dream dissertation: dogfood my own open-source hearing aid platform.)
  • MIT Sociology - History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) PhD program - ever since auditing Prof. Silbey's class as a 20-year-old undergrad furiously racing to stay alongside advance graduate students completing their dissertations in a field I'd never studied before, I've been aching to go back to this world of learning how communities of makers tick. I would love to do this kind of research, do it in parallel with getting my technical PhD, participatory research on how engineering grad students learn how to become engineering professors... not many people can do that research, and I will only get a chance to do it once. I want a strong grounding in the sociology of cultures of making, and in educational sociology, so that I may better change the culture of engineering education, not just its tools... (Dream dissertation: apprenticeships in learning-how-to-teach: a comparison of engineering grad students working as TAs and open-source contributors beginning to mentor other participants. If I am very lucky, I will be able to look at open-source and academic cultures both here in the US and also in China...)
  • Stanford EE - Masters or Engineer degree, for honing my Making skills. I am fascinated by what I've been able to track down of the research by Prof. Widrow on microphone arrays for hearing aids, and how Prof. Wiessman's work might have interesting cognitive analogies as to how the mind processes noise into understanding (now do you see why I want to take the cognitive track in ed school?) Stanford's excellent CS and design programs are things I very much want to crosslink into my engineering as well.
  • I would love more suggestions. There are many programs that I just don't know about yet.

Spent an hour walking around HGSE again today, soaking up the buildings and the sounds; I'm trying to become familiar enough with the place and the idea of attending that I can get over the "how can I even apply? I don't deserve to be here, I can't possibly be good enough..." voice in my head. I can't snap my fingers and turn that voice off, but I can work around it and not let it control my actions quite so much. It's been 7 years since I applied to schools, and I've learned a lot about hacking myself in the meantime.

In other news, I need to register for tests. And take them. Hopefully before I leave for California. In a week. (Studying? Right, that stuff. Actually, other than finding out the test formats, I'm not going to - I'm interested in trying it out and seeing what happens, since it's not like this is my only chance to take them, or that these scores will determine the course of my future. They're just something to take, to send in. After I take 'em this time and learn what I learn from doing that, then I'll reevaluate this stance.)