I remember walking into a teachers office hour and requesting of him a letter of recommendation, because was going to apply for my Phd in Philosophy. The typical discussion ensued about where I was applying and what I wanted to specialize in, but it was the last question that has stuck with me the longest.
“Why do you want to get a Phd?”
My professor (Mark Balaguer) at CSULA had me on my heels very quickly. Well…well… I want to study philosophy and teach it…umm…I love this subject…I mean, I think it changes people…It is my passion after-all.
I literally hadn’t thought a professor at a University would ask something like that…I would assume that they would think it was great regardless. I mean, don’t education people love education. But, the conversation went on and he Followed up with a nuttier question:
“Is Teaching important to you?”
My Answer: Yes, it is the reason I really want to do this topic as a profession.
“Do you like to write?”
My Answer: (Yes and no- I think) I love to write in the sense that it makes sense to me. Which is big picture. Again, the forest …not the trees. This blog is a good example of what I like to write about.
I do not want to write about meaningless crap that 5 people attaining their Phd will read sometime and then be forgotten. No, I do not really want to spend 5 years explaining why Aristotle should be considered a functionalist or what the definition of Abortion literally is. These things seems to be focusing too much on the trees for me.
For me, the rub of publishing for Phd students is the whole thesis and dissertation path. It seemed to me that when we would have Phd candidates come present to us, that the very things they had spent so much time on seemed inconsequential to me. It seemed like such a mental-gymnastics-get-caught-up-in-the-minutiae exercise. They would literally spend years trying to define a word or concept, or re-interpretting another thinker, or trying to standout because of who their “advisor” was for their dissertaiotn and “adding on to” his/her work.
Then a statement followed that would change me. He said, “Forester, I don’t like to teach. The only reason I teach is to make an income, so I can write. I find teaching to be quite boring”.
This is a teacher that I had 3 classes with! He hated teaching?!?!?!?! He found it boring!?!?!
This conversation fundamentally changed me. There was no reason for me to get my Phd if I actually liked teaching according to this professor that I respected. He also iterated to me that at the Junior College level is basically the same income that could be expected at a run-of-the-mill site college.
So, maybe the title of this article is a little audacious. Maybe it is an overgeneralization. The problem is that a Phd might be useful to some, but for my passion it was worthless.
I consequently decided to not pursue my Phd. I might someday for the fun of it, but if anything I have realized that it was great that I did not go into debt any further and did not take 3+ more of my life to just focus on writing things that no one would read.
Rather, I have found true joy in teaching Philosophy at the Community College Level. I find it fun to challenge local students and get them critically thinking about what is next in their life and why they have chosen their major. I love to shock their system with absurd challenges to their foundational believes.
I have truly found a meaning of life for now in teaching students the subject that I do. A few men go on to study father and even major in the subject!
Anyways, hope you enjoy the title and these thoughts on a Phd.
Why did you stop being educated? Or, is education still happening for you?