Thursday, July 16, 2009

the current debate inside my brain

I'm completely finished with my masters program! I found out last week that I passed comps, so as soon as my university puts the paperwork in I am officially finished :)

And yet... I've found myself exploring different programs, looking for what's next. Because deep down, I love taking classes and I love learning new ideas that change the way I look at my teaching.

I'm not sure I want to teach without taking classes, but I also know that I don't want to take classes without teaching. I love my job too much. So, this post is really me just writing out pros and cons that are floating in my head. I don't necessarily recommend reading it unless you are really bored, because, I feel, it's a bit painful.

I found my dream phd program a few months ago, and haven't been able to let the idea of a phd go. The program is at a nearby private university, and is a special education phd program, but puts an emphasis on neuroscience. Reading the course requirements makes me giddy (I know, I am a huge dork). The brain and early development. The brain and learning disabilities. The brain and attachment. I want to soak up that knowledge. I NEED to soak up that knowledge.

Then I saw how much the university courses cost. $1,450 per credit hour. CREDIT HOUR. Two of my masters classes = 1 CREDIT HOUR. I cried. I can't even take the intro class for fun to see if I'd like it.

So I kept looking at other phd programs. I can't continue at the same university I did my masters because the phd program is only at their main campus, two hours away. My advisor tried to talk me into it- saying I just rent an apartment there, take Tuesday/Thursday classes and live in the two towns while I'm working on it. This is what she did. I didn't want to tell her, but that does not sound like fun. I really like my husband. I don't want to be away from him three days a week. This time-before-babies is fun- I don't want to waste our young years driving back and forth to another town.

Plus, I love my job. I'm not sure I can give up my job to do a phd full time.

There is another university here and my neighbor is actually working on her phd in education there. We go for long walks so I can soak up what she's studying. So it's a possibility. But the required courses don't make me cry with joy like my dream program. But I'd finish with a phd, I could teach full time, and I could live at home without robbing a bank. All good things.

Then I found two different programs that offer the courses my dream program offers. One is a year long masters program at Harvard on the brain and learning, and the other is a 15 credit certificate course on the brain and learning at another slightly-nearby university. So I'd get the learning and the knowledge I am craving. One would involve living in Cambridge for a year, which I'm not sure Mr. Lipstick and I want to do. My husband is a southern boy and has honestly been complaining that the summer here isn't hot enough. The other is a possibility, but while it would quench my thirst for neurology-education, it would be spending a lot of money on quenching that thirst, and not enabling me to do anything I can't already do, like one day, down the line, teaching college courses in education.

So, do I want the knowledge (yes) and the enjoyment of taking classes because I love taking classes? (yes, I am a dork)

What if that means spending a lot of money on a program that is just "for fun" while it is taking funds away from a future phd program?

Do I want to start a phd program that will give me knowledge (but not the knowledge I really want to geek out over) that will one day make it possible for me to do something outside the classroom, or in combination with teaching?

I love teaching and don't see myself ever wanting to do something else. I want knowledge that will make me a better teacher- better at doing exactly what I'm hired to do now. I'd love to be able to pick up extra income, one day down the line, teaching night courses, or perhaps take a year or two off to do research- but ultimately I want more education to make me better at my job. Is that worth spending all of this money?

Welcome inside my head. It hurts, I know, going round and round like this. Luckily we go back to school on the 27th and I wont have time to sit around all day by the pool thinking about the pros and cons of my future education.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I understand and am still having the same debate in my head! I started an Ed.D program last fall that was challenging, stimulating, and so expensive all in one. I loved teaching and taking the class. I was so very busy! Then my dad passed away and I couldnt focus for awhile, so I withdrew from the program. I have since decided ( with the economy's help) that I can't afford the $40,000 tutition. But what do I do this summer?? I am taking a class that is part of an Ed. Specialist degree --checking out this program. I think I will *always* have this debate in my head!