Itchy

I’ve been thinking, again, about going back to school.

To be fair, I never actually stop thinking about going back to school. I’m like a hungry baby when it comes to education – I always want more.

I’m thinking a lot today about going back to school. I want another degree – whether another Master’s or a Ph.D. doesn’t really matter to me – though the degree itself isn’t the motivation. I want to be challenged and to be inspired. I want to work and to think and to discover things that I didn’t know before. I want to write and to argue and to convince. I want to learn more as a student so that I can be a better teacher.

I’ve been circling around areas of concentration for a while now, and I think I’m narrowing in on the literature and history of the American Civil Rights era. I’m withholding a final judgment on that until after my fellowship at Not So Local College’s Holocaust center this summer, but I know for sure that I’ve always been drawn to the writing and thinking that comes out of human struggle. Apartheid, the Native American experience, gay and lesbian literature, India’s fight for independence from England and, of course, the work of both the Holocaust and the Civil Rights are absolutely fascinating to me, and I’m itching to design a program of study of the literature of the oppressed

The struggle for equality – for humanity – finds its highest expression, I think, in art. I’m not entirely sure that it’s possible to struggle for something as momentous as freedom without artistic expression. I’m still working my way toward this idea, of course, and I’m going to need advisers who are much smarter than I to put me on a path that might actually lead somewhere, but I’m certainly not short of enthusiasm. I’m ready, I think, to think like a student again.

Earning degrees is a lot like giving birth. It’s hard work. It takes a lot longer than one wants it to. I remember well the lead-up to finishing my Master’s, and how much it really sucked. Like giving birth, though, there’s joy in it (and, like giving birth, one needs a recovery time to forget how much it sucked and be willing to do it again). Yes, the work is hard and yes, sometimes it’s painful. It’s work that’s rarely done in isolation, though, and the end result is always worth the effort.

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13 Comments

Filed under learning, Questions, reading, ruminating, social issues, strange but true, teaching

13 responses to “Itchy

  1. I love taking classes, but I won’t be able to go back for a degree. I never finished my Ph.D. because I loathe the research (long story).

    What would keep you from doing it? Or at least getting started on it?

  2. Really, Seester, the only thing keeping me from applying for the September start is money. I need to find out if Local U. offers any kind of tuition break for adjuncts (I suspect not, but I’m going to ask, anyway). It all comes down to dollars – they want ‘em, and I don’t have that many to spare.

    The research doesn’t really scare me that much. I’ve got a fantastic network of scholarly friends and colleagues who will support me. What I really need to do is the legwork around what I’m actually going to research, though. I’m going to start talking to my smaht friends about it in the next few months and see where I end up.

  3. Seester asked what I was going to ask… and you’ve already answered. Local U doesn’t offer tuition breaks for adjuncts?? That’s stinky.

  4. I don’t know for sure that LU doesn’t offer tuition reimbursement, but my suspicion is that they don’t. When my former advisor/future boss called me to offer me the position, he mentioned that adjuncts are essentially exploited; rotten pay, no benefits. While it would be in their best interests to offer more education to their instructors, those who control the purse strings may have other priorities than the betterment of the faculty.

  5. Good luck with your decision. Go, chili, go!

  6. oh yes please…it is money that holds me back….I have two teenagers that need their studies payed for so I am at the back of the queue…

  7. I feel the same way about school and I’ve really been missing it. I completed my master’s in MIS online so it just wasn’t the same. I have a half-completed master’s in literature that I’d like to finish. I had already selected and started researching my topic for my thesis and I’m still excited about it so I think that means I need to finish it. I was working on a thesis that focused on the role of women in the war in Vietnam. Your post reminded me about it and now I’m itching to get back to it ….

  8. jrh

    FWIW, as much as I enjoyed my years in grad school, I am learning, problem solving, thinking, and being challenged much more as a teacher than I ever did as a student. And, I can do so on MY timeframe and based on MY needs, desire, and whims.

    Obviously, I am not one to scoff WANTING more education and higher degrees, but if it’s not a degree you’re after there may be easier ways to get what you want.
    As Matt Damon says in Good Will Hunting:
    “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.”

  9. Bo

    Good luck.

    I have degrees that I want but never pursued. However, I never worked harder in my life than when I was in college the first time around, and my stomach turns over at the thought of trying to study while also being a full-time breadwinner and dad.

    I think that making a living would have to be removed as a daily concern for me to ever go back.

  10. gerry rosser

    Your post got me to thinking about my higher-education years. What popped first into my mind was how over it I was in each case (bachelor, law) before it was over, and how my efforts in the last couple of terms in each case was pretty pathetic. Not pathetic enough to fail to graduate (with honors in each case), but still below my standards.

    I’ve thought about further schooling, but doubt I’ll ever pursue it. I just try to keep learning as I drift along.

  11. Some of our best works of art have come out of the struggle for equality and acceptance. It’s kind of sad when you think about it that way. I mean sad to think that some have to suffer so that we get great art.

  12. Brenda

    I hope you get to do what you want. Maybe you can do it without and just sell the book!

  13. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Unsparing.

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