The plague of perfectionism

One of the many strengths of the Classical Studies degree are the online seminars. There are about four to six per course, they run for two weeks at a time, and are moderated by the course tutor. It is a great opportunity to interact with the other students, pick the collective brain, and take a “deep dive” on a particular aspect of the course. I’ve got three seminars running at the moment, and they are focused on Aeschylus’ Oresteia, stereotypes of women in Greek comedy, and Pliny’s obsessive letter writing (he would have loved blogging and Twitter). Don’t you all wish you were studying Classics too?

I firmly believe that actively taking part in these seminars are a stepping stone to exam success. They force you to keep up to date with your school materials, think deeper and read around the subject – plus if you have a strong tutor they will stretch you! However, what I’ve noticed over the years is that not all students particpate in the seminars, and this makes me sad as I feel they are missing out. Now, I completely understand taking a pass on seminars as they are an additional layer of work and a heavy time commitment. But, I think another reason that more students don’t take part is that they are hung up on perfectionism. The feeling that unless we can answer questions perfectly we might as well not bother. I understand where this mindset comes from but for me receiving feedback far out weights the fear of looking foolish. I think that it is more important to post anything, and I truly mean ANYTHING, in a seminar rather than not. We are here to learn, part of that process is sometimes getting things wrong, and perfectionism can hold us back.

Here are two great articles (here and here) on trying to break the habit of perfection from one of my favorite writers, Penelope Trunk. Enjoy!


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