Don’t be a DRIP! and other teachable moments

I am learning a lot this term, and ‘don’t be a DRIP’ came as an especially timely lesson. The Oxford Dictionary and Usage Guide to the English language’ says that I should use terms like drip, in this context, with restraint because it is considered to be ‘modish and inflated diction’. It does allow that fashionable phrases are often useful; as long as I am careful, I am on safe grammatical ground. Grammatically safe ground proved to be elusive the past few weeks. Floundering in swirling eddies of grammar helped me to articulate the student version of DRIP.

DRIP, as coined by Michael Shay at EMSN Network, means ‘data rich and information poor’;  I have a large collection of facts but no way to use them in a meaningful way. The DRIP effect describes the experience of moving laterally rather than moving forward toward goals, achievement and success.

I have very specific goals and equally specific definitions of achievement and success.  To risk another bit of modish and inflated diction, I recently experienced what Americans call ‘a teachable moment’.  It came while taking some grammar tests. I passed the tests but with lower scores than I expected. While considering my results I thought of Carla Harris’s advice that a professional should set their own agenda and work aggressively to manage their own advancement. It also reminded me of current conversations in our student forums about information management, effective study plans, and upcoming exams.

Contemplating advice from Shay and Harris helped me to appreciate how my study and exam revision plans have changed over three years in this program. Shay’s breakthrough thinking principles helped me realize that concentrating so intently on  ‘data’, in this case primary texts and secondary reading, is a ‘problem focused’ approach when what I really need is a ‘solution focused’ approach to exams, skills and success.  I must know exactly what area I need to work on so I can obtain high level skills and avoid being a DRIP.  Texts are my tools, but I must know what information and skills are required for success in exams and professional advancement then use my time to develop them.

Developing skill sets and useful information starts by assessing strengths and vulnerabilities. In this example my vulnerability is a working knowledge of grammar and usage because text analysis is important in advanced course assessment and I want to obtain high level professional writing skills. My strength is a study plan focused on in-depth analysis of short sections of text supported by research. This study plan allows me to engage with multiple issues in a manageable amount of text.

Working with texts over a one year term means there is a lot of data like notes on secondary reading, primary texts, and essays.  It helps to articulate what I want to achieve professionally with my degree and in exams; focusing on goals makes it easier to manage texts, data and solutions. Faithfully using theOxford Dictionary and Usage Guide to the English language is one way I keep everything in context and avoid  the pitfalls of grammar and being a ‘DRIP’.

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