Dating as a Metaphor


I teach Rhetoric & Composition to 18 year old college freshman, but to keep things interesting (for them; for me) I also think of the class as Life 101. Today's lesson involved How to Evaluate the Appropriateness of a Source for Your Research Paper. And half way through, things started to devolve.

"You need to look for red flags," I told the class. "But sometimes, you get so invested in the source, you can't see them. The red flags are there, but you choose to ignore them."

They looked confused.

"It's like--you think something is right. But it's not. Your source has an agenda. And the agenda isn't going to help you reach your goal."

They still looked confused.

"Just invest a lot of time in a particular source. And you have to be ok potentially letting it go. It might not be what you really want. It might not be what you need." At this point, I was confusing myself. Was I discussing research strategies, or my most recent failed attempt at dating?

"Are you talking about a relationship?" a student finally asked.

"Yes!" I yelled, slamming the eraser down. "You are in a relationship with your research paper!"

"I see," many of them stated.

"And sometimes, you just can't see those red flags. And that is why we have peer review partners. Because they are like the supportive friends who say, 'You're too emotionally involved, so we will point out this source's flaws to you.'"

"Ah," more of them nodded. "We see. We see."

"So stay alert," I told them. "Keep an eye on the prize. Don't get distracted. Stay in control."

Class dismissed.