Saturday, September 8, 2012

I'm Finishing My PhD! (And You're Going to Help Me)

I mentioned in a previous post that accepting a full-time faculty position at a community college made me revisit my educational plans. Quite simply, I have the job I would be looking for when I finish my PhD. I want to work in an open access higher educational setting; that's what I've been working toward for the past four or so years anyway. Even though it's only been a few weeks, getting into my new role has been an amazing experience, and I truly think I'm where I'm supposed to be. The work is sometimes exhausting and occasionally overwhelming, but I've already had so many inspiring moments with students. I really do love it.

So, for a while, I wondered if I would finish my PhD. I don't necessarily need it to do what I want to do, but I do like the depth of thought that comes along with research and writing. Not to mention I'm thisclose to being finished. I only need two more classes and exams to be ABD. So, I've made a decision. I'm finishing.

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And you're going to help me. Okay. Maybe not you as an individual because you can choose what you read and don't read, but you as one of my very valued blog readers. I've had a tentative goal of reading one book a week from my exam list during the semester. That might not sound very ambitious, but I'm also taking Spanish for translation (and I've never had any Spanish before in my life), teaching full-time, and raising a toddler. I know that one book a week is doable, but I'm having a hard time getting the actual doing it part down. 

So here's the plan. Every week, I'm going to write about the book that I've read. Now, because I know that not everyone just loves them some Aristotle as much as I do (though really, what's wrong with you?), I'm going to put a little spin on it. Every week I will take whatever academic work I've been reading and apply it to some sort of pop culture: news stories, movies, songs, television shows, something. 

First up? Aristotle's On Rhetoric. Get excited. 


Photo: NLEOMF

12 comments:

  1. That's a great goal. It's one of the reasons I started writing reviews of the things I'm reading. It keeps me going. I haven't had much time to read in the last few months, but I have decided to *make* the time because I find it very therapeutic. Congrats on seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. You would have regretted it for the rest of your life if you quit I think.

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    1. That's exactly it with me. I can make the time for anything if I can convince my brain it is a must, but in order for it to be a must, I need a more firm deadline than "exams sometime next year." I think this will help.

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  2. Wow, great idea! I love the idea of applying the readings to something! I just recently discovered your blog, I'm also a mom and just finished my PhD this past May. You can definitely do it! And it sounds like you have a great plan!

    Looking forward to reading your updates on here, go prelims go!!

    S.

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    1. Thanks for reading! Congratulations on finishing your PhD! What field do you study?

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  3. I can't wait to hear all about Aristotle!

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  4. Cool! Best of luck finishing your Phd! Also, studying Spanish sounds like a great idea- I think learning a second language is awesome. I speak Chinese, and it's great and it's shown me so much about how language affects the way I think, and how things can be communicated using sentence structures I never would have imagined.

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    1. I'm excited about learning Spanish. I really wish that I'd started earlier in my life. How was learning Chinese? Did you learn it as an adult?

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    2. Yeah I started studying Chinese when I was 20. There's this stupid myth that adults can't learn languages, or that the sounds in Chinese are impossible to distinguish if you didn't hear them as a baby. That makes me really angry. Actually, at the beginning, I seriously wondered whether or not it was possible for me to speak Chinese, because I'm white.

      The truth is, it's hard but it's not impossible. It was a lot of work- but after you put in the work, then you will definitely be able to speak the language.

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  5. I think a book a week is realistic. It always worked for me to have specific goals like that. It gives you something to measure against. The idea of applying your reading to popular culture sounds fun, but i do have one word of caution. If your program is like mine was, you've compiled a reading list that relates to your dissertation plans. So you also will need to think about how all this reading comes together for your own research. If that's not popular culture, then you may be creating more work for yourself. A piece of advice someone gave me when i was preparing for exams: make everything about your own research. With that in mind, all of my teaching came off my reading list (so teaching was studying). you could do the same here. write about how the book you read relates to your research. that way: blogging=studying. (maybe your research is related to popular culture and you're already doing that?) Anyway, just a thought. I for one will be interested to see what you're reading. i spend so much time writing these days, i forget to read and have been trying to do more of it. maybe you'll inspire me! :)

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    1. Thanks for the good advice! Our list is a collection of works that are standard for the discipline and then some works that we choose ourselves (with the guidance of the committee). My main concern is that some of the older (like Aristotle) works on the list are going to be harder for me to remember for the oral exam, and I'm hoping that writing about them through a lens that is more contemporary will help all the concepts stick. I definitely think you're right that I should think about all the works as pointing toward my dissertation in the long-run. My dissertation is more pedagogical in bent, and several of the later works on the standard list as well as all the ones I choose myself will definitely fit that mold a lot more clearly. I'm going to take your advice and shift to a more dissertation-specific focus for those works for sure!

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  6. I think this sounds like a really great idea and I'm really excited to read your posts as you do this!

    I'm currently struggling with the "[do I even want to | is it even worth it to] try to finish?" question after the birth of my daughter. (I'm in cognitive science, studying language processing, so a lot it boils down to needing to know how experiments I'm still trying to put together will turn out and being tired of not knowing whether I'll ever even have anything worth writing about, and just plain tired in general, as a newish mama). I'm so happy teaching intro-level courses and I think I'd be incredibly happy (and good at) teaching at a community college, but I also think I might forever regret it if I quit with just my Masters (actually two of them, one in a related field from before starting at my current grad school).

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    1. Thanks for reading!

      How old is your daughter? I know for me the earliest months of my daughter's infancy were so draining that it was hard to see how I would ever balance out school, work, and motherhood. While toddlerhood made things more complicated in some ways (like, I can't just put her to sleep in a sling while I grade papers, for instance), it really did make it more manageable (like in the sense that I get more than two hours of sleep at a stretch and so I can imagine having full-sentence thoughts again).

      I love teaching at the community college, and I think it'll be my home. I don't know what it's like in your field, but my colleagues seem to be a pretty even mix of MAs and PhDs, even among the new faculty coming in.

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Comments are welcome and encouraged. I appreciate debate and have no problem hearing from people who disagree. This is a space where people can question and discuss. That said, I will delete comments that contain name-calling or bigotry. If it would get you kicked out of a dinner party, don't say it here. Use your manners.