quizbowl and academic careers

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The Atom Strikes!
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quizbowl and academic careers

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

Split from the "improving as a history player" thread --Mgmt.
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
The Atom Strikes! wrote:(An amusing side note: I've found that quizbowl has been invaluable to me in my post-circuit-retirement career as an academic historian. Being able to instantly contextualize just about anything I encountered or read about is really helpful, as is having enough background knowledge about just about everything to ask historians outside your specialization informed questions about their work, which both helps you get more useful information and makes you look really smart.)
I keep meaning to record a discussion about how quizbowl is useful in academic careers, so I'll keep this in mind.
If you want, I can write about it at greater length for you. Just let me know!
Henry Gorman, Wilmington Charter '09, Rice '13, PhD History Vanderbilt '1X
Edmund
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Re: History Player

Post by Edmund »

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:I keep meaning to record a discussion about how quizbowl is useful in academic careers, so I'll keep this in mind.
Quizbowl has been useful in my private sector career too. It's nice to have heard of stuff you've never actually studied, or even better, to know something about it!

When it comes to learning history, I am a fan of a good historical atlas.
Edmund Dickinson
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Tees-Exe Line
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Re: History Player

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

The Atom Strikes! wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
The Atom Strikes! wrote:(An amusing side note: I've found that quizbowl has been invaluable to me in my post-circuit-retirement career as an academic historian. Being able to instantly contextualize just about anything I encountered or read about is really helpful, as is having enough background knowledge about just about everything to ask historians outside your specialization informed questions about their work, which both helps you get more useful information and makes you look really smart.)
I keep meaning to record a discussion about how quizbowl is useful in academic careers, so I'll keep this in mind.
If you want, I can write about it at greater length for you. Just let me know!
Ah, it's interesting that this has come up. I agree wholeheartedly that the epiphenomena of being a good quizbowl player and Knowing Things is useful in one's academic career, but I do not agree that being a core member of the quizbowl community and all the time and attention that requires is good for academic careers. I think there's a strong argument that anyone who is ambitious to attain what could be called the standard emblems of success as an academic should not play quizbowl.
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Susan
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Re: History Player

Post by Susan »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
The Atom Strikes! wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
The Atom Strikes! wrote:(An amusing side note: I've found that quizbowl has been invaluable to me in my post-circuit-retirement career as an academic historian. Being able to instantly contextualize just about anything I encountered or read about is really helpful, as is having enough background knowledge about just about everything to ask historians outside your specialization informed questions about their work, which both helps you get more useful information and makes you look really smart.)
I keep meaning to record a discussion about how quizbowl is useful in academic careers, so I'll keep this in mind.
If you want, I can write about it at greater length for you. Just let me know!
Ah, it's interesting that this has come up. I agree wholeheartedly that the epiphenomena of being a good quizbowl player and Knowing Things is useful in one's academic career, but I do not agree that being a core member of the quizbowl community and all the time and attention that requires is good for academic careers. I think there's a strong argument that anyone who is ambitious to attain what could be called the standard emblems of success as an academic should not play quizbowl.
On the other hand, I've found quizbowl to be pretty useful in a non-faculty higher ed administrative role. I'd be very interested to participate in this discussion, should it take place.
Susan
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ryanrosenberg
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Re: History Player

Post by ryanrosenberg »

I'm obviously not an academic (yet), but I've found my mediocre quizbowl generalism to be very useful in writing papers and preparing for the GRE. Also social interactions with other people where I can carry on a decent conversation with them about their field of interest.
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The Atom Strikes!
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Re: History Player

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
The Atom Strikes! wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
The Atom Strikes! wrote:(An amusing side note: I've found that quizbowl has been invaluable to me in my post-circuit-retirement career as an academic historian. Being able to instantly contextualize just about anything I encountered or read about is really helpful, as is having enough background knowledge about just about everything to ask historians outside your specialization informed questions about their work, which both helps you get more useful information and makes you look really smart.)
I keep meaning to record a discussion about how quizbowl is useful in academic careers, so I'll keep this in mind.
If you want, I can write about it at greater length for you. Just let me know!
Ah, it's interesting that this has come up. I agree wholeheartedly that the epiphenomena of being a good quizbowl player and Knowing Things is useful in one's academic career, but I do not agree that being a core member of the quizbowl community and all the time and attention that requires is good for academic careers. I think there's a strong argument that anyone who is ambitious to attain what could be called the standard emblems of success as an academic should not play quizbowl.
I'll shamelessly admit that I built most of my quizbowl skills during high school (when time comes at much less of a premium, and academic success is a lot easier-- I devoted huge amounts of time to quizbowl, but still graduated second in my class at a highly competetive magnet high school and won a large merit scholarship to an excellent university), drew down my participation during college (assisted by my physical remoteness from the biggest circuits), and retired when I went to graduate school. I'll also note that the marginal utility of quizbowl knowledge in academic life drops off pretty steeply at a certain point. Knowing about Rhodesia, Ian Smith, and the Bush War is really helpful, knowing about the Selous Scouts is not, unless you're a historian of Rhodesia. Similarly, knowing who Edwidge Danticat is is helpful, but memorizing plot summaries of every story in Krik Krak probably isn't, unless you're pursuing a PhD in Caribbean lit. Success in grad school requires me to spend months or years travelling overseas to do archival research, huge time investments in language practice, comprehensive exams, and coursework, and enough breathing room to rest, recuperate, and take good care of my physical and mental health. Knowing my own limits, I think that all of that would be incompatible with the quest to be a tip-top quizbowl player. (People in different programs who have different needs and different abilities, or people whose closest friends and significant others play quizbowl with them would likely see this come out differently-- Seth Teitler seems to have had a pretty swell academic career.)
Henry Gorman, Wilmington Charter '09, Rice '13, PhD History Vanderbilt '1X
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Cheynem
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Re: History Player

Post by Cheynem »

(This might deserve a different thread)

I think on one level the time sink that is quizbowl can be somewhat hazardous for academic careers, and there's certainly plenty of weekends or time at practice that I might want back in retrospect to do more work on my thesis (although I finished it on time, so who knows?) and more pertinently, publishing or presenting or job searching.

On the other hand, quizbowl is useful as Henry and others have alluded, as a way to get an academic primer, which is useful when you're in academic settings and need to converse. As people have pointed out, it's not like people are impressed if you fire off fact after fact, but rather, it's more of the sense of being able to have a conversation, sound intelligent, and make the other person you're talking to feel intelligent. I used this example before, but a few years ago, a colleague of mine was talking about the Herzog film Aguirre: The Wrath of God. I said something like "Oh, the one about the conquistador dude in South America? [I hope that's the one]" It's not so much that I KNEW a lot about the movie but just that I knew OF it and could allow him to keep talking about it further. Thus, what could have been a stalled conversation and perhaps an awkward moment turned into an interesting discussion that hopefully raised his esteem of me (of course, next year he quit because he hated the university, so alas). On a very basic, superficial level, this is where I think quizbowl is useful as an academic.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger
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