03 September 2008
Knowledge is Relative
I have found it odd the reaction I get when I tell people what I do. When I was a high school teacher, I received looks of sympathy from people or comments about my fortitude. Now when I tell them that I am a doctoral student or I teach college, it is a different response altogether. For the former, I get questions about how hard medical school is or what my dissertation is about/degree is in. The first one just makes me giggle, the second one I never want to answer because I know they don't care, they are just being polite. As for the response about me teaching college, it is funny. People make comments about how smart I must be, or how young I am to be teaching at the college level.
The perceptions of what a high school teacher and what a college instructor look like and how smart they are astound me. I have the same degrees that I did when I was a high school teacher, just one more year of college difference. I am only one year older than I was when a high school teacher.
Responses about how smart I am are so funny, because anyone who has gone on past their bachelor's degree knows how graduate school beats the smart out of you. Now I have had the pleasure of being in programs that are very nurturing and collegial, rather than cut-throat. I have had the privilege of working with faculty one on one, and even being allowed to call them by their first names! The process of graduate school is to narrow your focus, and expose you to more and more information about this area of specialty. You are constantly quetioning your sanity and discussing everything to the nth degree. On top of it, your final piece of work that is the culmination of your years of study has to be defended in front of a panel of people. What other profession requires this? A medcial doctor gets a license after passing a test; if you get your law degree in the state of Wisconsin and choose to practice here, you don't even have to take the bar! Me, I have to take qualifying exams, and orally defend them, then write a long research book/paper and orally defend that as well. Now, mind you I have already done this process once for my master's degree. Does this seem smart to you? I think this proves that I am nowhere near smart.