The short answer: it was arbitrary.
The medium answer: I was looking for a happy medium between a long-term self-education project I would never stick with and a project so brief that I would have no chance of significantly expanding my knowledge. Five weeks seemed good.
The long answer: The short and medium answers are true. But there’s another dimension that’s harder for me to explain. Before you get too frustrated with me, know that I do have educational psychology on my list of future 5WCs.
I notoriously have trouble with categories. Especially categories like “relevant” and “not relevant.” I’m an interweaving thinker. With some people, it seems like the more they understand something, the more they’re able to divide it up into perfectly cubic little boxes arranged in a line. For me, the more I understand something, the more I say “oh wow, that’s similar to this and this, and this indirectly but significantly affects that, and category A is both a parent category and a subcategory of B depending how you look at it,” and I definitely don’t end up with a neat row of cubes. Knowledge is like a web of many long threads in my mind, and it feels unnatural to divide it into sections; doing so feels like cutting a square out of the middle of a knit sweater.
Seriously, it’s a thing for me. Look how many categories I list my five-week project posts in on this blog. Even after I designated a category specifically for five-week projects.
What I’m saying is that I have no trouble arguing that idea A is related to idea N even though they’re 13 steps apart. This was nice back when I was on the debate team, but it’s not particularly helpful when it comes to defining a manageable self-education project. I thought that a time limit would help me determine that while Topic X is indeed relevant to Topic A, it is not relevant enough right now.
It seems to be working for me so far. My category issues are quieted by the possibility of future five-week courses. Excluding a line of inquiry doesn’t feel like taking scissors to lace when I know the exclusion is temporary. So the number five was indeed arbitrary, but the time limitation was quite intentional.