Yet more time has passed and I have not made it to the blog. In fact, I have barely made it to any of my beloved internet hang outs. If it didn’t come in the form of my tiny blackberry screen I didn’t partake. That is because I have spent the better part of the last week and half with a fever. I only had Tuesday and Wednesday where my fever dipped down to the mid 99’s. The rest of the time it hovered between 101-102. Given the surgery I underwent red flags flew, so I did visit the ER. Where I generously donated more blood than I care to admit and did weird tests for “surgery based illnesses”. All of which came back fine. Instead, what did show was a “unnamed virus” that could last 7-10 days. Oh great, we are 7 days in and I “think” maybe I am starting to feel better.
That though, is not why I am here to write at 4 in the morning. Especially given I have been up since 2:30. I am in a weird spot yet again. I am over halfway through my masters degree program and decisions have to be made. I usually try to not look back but in this instance it is hard not too. I decided on my university because it is close, has a reputation because of the larger universities it is attached too and I did my undergrad work there. Once there I fell in love with the smaller campus and it is also easier to get know and work with the profs and I have enjoyed that immensely. I can honestly say there is something about each and everyone of them I like. I like that they push me, they challenge me and that they know what they can expect from me and will never let me settle for less. Not to mention the friendships I have made in my time there. I already get so sad thinking about those friendships changing. I am not sure if that is always possible at larger campuses.
But something has changed. Or maybe I changed. I don’t know. Or maybe now that I am larger part of the system and I see things that have changed my outlook. I just struggle being a part of it. When I was an undergrad I really did idolize the masters program and I can’t place my finger on it or this feeling and where I need to go to “fix” it or if it is even something that is fixable and not just the natural order of things. Maybe that is the problem you walk in with stars in your eyes and you get let down. Being that I spent the better part of the last week laying down thinking and possibly over thinking all of this I have had a lot of time to comb over stuff and I can feel indifference erupting from me, but I am not sure what I can even do about any of it.
And because I am a graduate student I know that is very possible this might be part of the process. Because as I have found in grad school it causes and exposes those raw nerves and challenges you to heal them or make them different. I was told very early on by someone I consider my friend and mentor that grad school takes everything you think you know and turns it on its head and sometimes back around. So maybe that is this feeling. It is me breaking from the institutionalized school of thinking that comes natural as an undergrad to a more complex and personal way of thinking about education that I believe comes as a graduate student.
What I don’t like is the gut feeling I get when I think about it. Maybe it is the current state of education everywhere. I don’t think I am posting some new flash that our education system, specifically in Indiana alone, is hugely flawed. Or maybe there is some underlying issue that I haven’t placed my finger on yet either inside of me or in secondary education. All I have to rely on are instincts and I can remember back to the Fall semester of 2010 when I entered the graduate program. I was full of hope and change and the belief that I could make changes. Now here it is Spring semester of 2012 and I feel like I am still in the search for my own academic identity. Is that me or it is them or is it a combination? Or it is something else entirely? I am extremely proud to be an alumni of this university and to have the opportunity to teach there and eventually hold my masters from the their program. I really think some of what this is is me finding my academic self in the midst of the educational warfare that seems to be taking place in this country and feeling an inability to change any of it.
I suspect some of what I am remiss about as well is the mere power of money in education. This could apply to primary and secondary educational systems. I find myself horribly angry and belligerent that student needs don’t dictate policies and educational funding. Instead, the focus is squarely placed on money dictating the kind of education students get (I speak solely here of education as a whole). Who controls the money? Is it the educators? The schools? Nope, it is politicians most of whom know little to nothing about education. This is wrong people. I think I naively believed I could be the change I wanted to see in the world (Gandhi). But I unless I have 50 million in my pocket my change won’t make a dent.
Therefore, I think what I am actually trying to do is find my footing in this educational system and deciding if I want to be a part of it. I love the teaching, but a lot of the time I feel powerless to make changes and that is a shitty place to be. Of course, I see and know the power I have being at the head of the class and teaching. Those changes are palpable and tangible. But that is a power that has to be restrained and respected and really only accounts for small portions of what I do or what I can do in the future given my decisions. Maybe these are growing pains, testing my resolve. Or maybe I am just in a weird “who am I going to be in life” spot.
But most of all it is cynicism in the system, the process and those who have agendas in it; that I don’t deal well with. I want my power back. Can that be done via a voting booth? Via activism? Via a classroom? Via all of them or none of them? I made the obvious decision to pursue this area, but I always made it knowing there were other avenues of pursuit at the end I could take. And that there my dear readers is the decision that needs to be made and is keeping me up at night.
Edited later to add: Sharing because this article says it so much better. As well, I should clarify my problem is not with my university as much as it is finding my place within it. Like do I continue my education for a PhD within the same system or do I move on? Do I utilize my degree differently than academia? If yes, then what? It comes down to determining what I want for myself and how I can make things better as I see it. The life of an adjunct or going on for PhD? Or do I dive back into business? I spent many years successfully in business and really enjoyed it. I am just ambivalent and looking for the magical answer in the sky.