Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Many paths for a PhD...

In today's Chronicle of Higher Education, a doctoral student writes about her job search and her realization that teaching is just not her calling. She writes as if she is defending her opinion, as if she is waiting for the rest of us to criticize her lack of interest in teaching. As an older student, this seems similar to the old debate between working moms and stay-at-home moms and whose choice is the right one.

I believe that she should not pursue a teaching job if her heart is not in it. As a former adjunct almost ready to return to academe, I know how much of a professor's life is spent on teaching, as opposed to research. They don't really explain this fully to doctoral students and I fear that many others who are not sure about their feelings will get a teaching job and then figure out it is not what they want. She is right to confront her feelings now, be honest about them, and pursue the path she feels more interested in.

I say this as one who has a completely different perspective. I was an adjunct for 11 years and then decided to pursue teaching as a full-time profession. For me, teaching is a calling--it feels like the best place for my talents and abilities to come together to do something positive in the world. Fortunately, I enjoy research, as well, so this career should be a positive move for me. But, I understand that there are two sides to the job and if your heart is not in it, take a different path.


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