Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I told myself that I'd use my last 4 days of vacation after we returned from Peru to get on top of my applications for phd programs. I told myself I'd be very productive- not having work or grad school work, well, I'd have plenty of time to get the applications together. Right?

I have caught up on shows on my dvr. My cat and I have napped. I've done laundry. I've made lasagna. I've caught up on my google reader. Spent way too much time on facebook. Played with pictures from my trip.

Yet every time I sit down to work on my application I sit frozen at my computer. I can't move. My fingers can't even bring themselves to type in the web address for the online application site.

I'm terrified.

The program I've discovered, just a few miles away, is perfect. Reading the course catalogue makes me want to cry with joy. It's description of its program is:

This approach links neuroscience and cognitive science to the development of interventions for individuals at risk for atypical growth, development, and learning. Interventions are viewed as multi-layered and include evidence-based actions targeted at the development of the individual child, the family and school system and at social policy.

neuroscience and cognitive science to the development of interventions for individuals... I want to have that knowledge. I want to do that reading, sit in those classes, study those facts. I want to know more about the science behind the children I work with. I want the knowledge.

I cried when I saw that one credit at this university (the most expensive undergrad in the country), one credit is 1,400. I can't even take a class to see if I want to go there- 3 credits is a budget for a vacation overseas.

SO, I've told myself I'll apply, see what happens. They have a lot of scholarships. Maybe I'll get a scholarship. Or something. Maybe we'll win the lottery. Maybe they'll suddenly pay teachers a million dollars.

So I've decided to do it. Try it. And so I come to the essay. The part where I'm suppose to write about why I want to go to their school. Why I want to be a leader in the field.

And the screen is blank.

Because what do I say?
To Whom it May Concern:
I am a big dork and I really just like learning. I want to have your knowledge, but I don't want to be a leader in the field. I want to keep the very job I have now. I love my job. I love the kids. I work at the think-tank for kids I adore. I just want to be better at my job. I want to sit in your classes, write papers for you, and soak up knowledge so I can understand kids even better than I do now. Please give me lots of money so I can do that while still keeping my current, fabulous job. I will not bring fame to your program. I will not change the way people in the field approach education. But I will use what you teach me to change the lives of children and I will do that every day, in a public school, for the children who need it most. Thank you, Mrs. Lipstick

Somehow I don't think that will cut it.

But it is the truth. I love my job. I don't want to over-educate myself out of a job I love. Sure down the line (a long time from now) I think I'd enjoy being a professor. But one at night school so I can still work with children during the day. I know that when I go too long without teaching I start to get depressed and anxious, as though I am not a complete person. But I also love learning about being a better teacher. And yes, I could do as many professional development workshops as I can handle, but that's not the same. I want to dive into knowledge. I want to understand more about the brain. I want to understand the neuroscience and cognitive science behind special education.

And if I finally get this written, get recommendations, do all the various paperwork that goes along with the application- what happens next?

if I get in?
Do I have to make the decision for us to be poor for awhile just because being in classes is a fun hobby for me?
Do I decide to balance work, school, and family for another few years?
Do I decide not to- choosing family and money over my dying curiosity about neuroscience and special education? Where am I then? Will I be ok with my decision?

And so, I am obviously blogging about this as a way, once again, to push off getting the work done. Funny how that works out. Maybe I should check facebook one more time... who knows what's happened in those last 20 minutes...


Sneaker Teacher said...

WOW....can't even tell you how much I relate to your post! I am actually just in the beginning stages of my doctoral program. I was accepted last Feb and then my husband got transferred to Germany so I am now working on it via skype and independent study thanks to my oh so wonderfully open minded advisor.

I, too, love the process of learning and soaking up more knowledge about how to be a better teacher, but I know that I want to remain a teacher for a long time before doing anything that truly merits having a doctorate degree. Eventually, I want to teach at the college level in a teacher prep program, but I know I need a lot more experience teaching before I can do that. The catch is...I want to put in the time/effort of the doctoral program now before we start a family because I think it would be much more difficult to spend so much time reading and studying once we have a baby. Sometimes I feel like I will be judged for getting my doctorate at my age (I'm 27), but at the same time, I know that I have to move forward with what makes me happy and what works for me. I was accepted, so I know that the advisors and faculty don't think my goals are silly at this point in my life/career. I say GO FOR IT! It doesn't hurt to apply and if you get in, you deal with the rest of the plan at that point.

Good luck!

When I wrote my essays, I really spoke from the heart. I painted a picture of who I am and I think, given what I have read on your blog, if you do the same, they will want you to be part of their program!


Angela Watson said...

I agree with KT about writing from the heart. I think what you just wrote is beautiful and obviously sincere. I'd love to see you send it, just like that, with a link to your blog which clearly demonstrates your passion for teaching kids. If that scholarship is meant for you, you'll get it.