Over the past couple of months I have been studying for a post graduate certificate in teaching and learning in higher education. Unit one of the course concludes tomorrow when I will hand in my 3000 word essay. When I started to write this essay I simply picked the areas of teaching and learning that I found most interesting and started to list the basic topics that I could cover. I then began filling out these topics with my thoughts. A couple of weeks later I was gazing at about 20,000 words, wondering how on earth to cut it down to 3000.Now I’m not saying I had 20,000 words of clear, succinct essay! No; it was a jumble of thoughts, ideas, references and phrases that I had jotted down as and when they occurred to me.
To cut a long story short, I spent several more weeks trying to edit down, without success. Though I shut down several areas of interest, I was still generating thousands of words on the topics I was going for, as I explored them at the kind of depth that is required of masters level work. In the end, after a lot of stress, I realised I was never going to be able to produce a satisfactory essay on these topics within the permitted word count. They were just too big.