Cat urine, medieval texts, and dealing with setbacks

Written by: Rachel Minkin

Primary Source:  Information Literacy Resources

Admittedly, when I first read this Io9 post, I wasn’t looking for much in the way of insight.
This medieval manuscript curses the cat who peed on it points out the fantastic curse against not just one feline, but all of its feline siblings.

How do curses and cat pee relate to those of us interested in information literacy and broader aspects of teaching and learning?

Occasionally, as we research and write, things/ life/ cat urine happens. We lose chunks of data. We forget to note down a full citation, we have a brilliant insight only to have the phone ring.. the insight is a wispy memory when we come back. We who are fully immersed in academia know this happens and we have coping strategies. But most importantly, we get back to work. We get back to the writing, to the research. Singularly odd events don’t necessarily stop us from inquiry. We may even point out the offending stain, incorporating into a new work.

Our first year students are not yet looking at the process of knowledge building as something worthwhile. At this early stage in their academic career, they’re looking towards completion. How can I finish this paper/ project/ research as soon as possible and with minimum effort? When things/ life/ cat urine happens, they are devastated.

As faculty, we need to acknowledge that our students may not handle the stressors within an academic discipline as well as we do and that along with teaching the facts and skills inherent in our fields, we may also need to teach and model the appropriate responses to setbacks and failures.

Have your students witnessed you respond to a failure or setback? If yes, how did you react and how did your students react?

Lovingly written by Rachel Minkin

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Rachel Minkin
Rachel M. Minkin is an Information Literacy Librarian, responsible for leading information literacy sessions for the first-year students taking Tier One Writing class in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures. Prior to beginning at Michigan State in August 2011, Rachel was a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Lansing Community College (Lansing, MI) and the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA).