Academia and Me

Every since I can remember I’ve liked school. And not in the way that normal people like school, I didn’t much like recess or sports or lunch breaks. I liked classes. I liked learning. Some part of this is nostalgia speaking, I probably didn’t particularly like school as much as I am claiming now and I certainly didn’t like homework as much as I claim. But it is true that I enjoyed school and schoolwork. Lectures suit my personality, reading is one of my favorite things to do, and the pursuit of knowledge feels like the primary purpose of my life. When I was a child, I said I (once) that I wanted to be a teacher, because I thought it would be the closest thing to what I wanted to do. Then I realized what I really wanted was to be a professor, teaching and researching. Academia isn’t some higher calling. Academia is like my home. So I have a visceral reaction when people criticize it.

That’s not to say that academia doesn’t deserve criticism. There’s a lot wrong with the system right now, and there’s exciting movement to change things for the better: both in researching and in teaching. I never really criticized academia when I was a student, but when the roles were switched, it became apparent how many things are done haphazardly. Yet knowing this, I still have this gut reaction whenever someone says schools or teachers are corrupt, greedy, or obsolete. It sends shivers down my back when someone says the entire school model will be going down in a matter of decades.

Their point, often is that schools don’t function to educate, especially not in matters nor manners of reality nor to act creatively. If we were shift paradigms, then the new education that would form would be better for everyone; people would learn willingly and properly. I would gladly join them, too. More than the bureaucracy or the buildings, what academia represents is the enterprise of learning new ideas and finding creative, deep thoughts.

But if I let go of what I have in the academia now, will the new one catch me as I fall?

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About minimalrho
Unemployed guy with a PhD in math.

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