My Road to the Ph.D.: The Half-Way Point

This will be a brief entry tonight as I still have some work to wrap up–though with me, is anything ever brief?  But here I am:  2 1/2 days away from piling back into my car and heading back to Connecticut for a much-needed 4 day break from school.  Of course, I am only at the half-way point in the summer.  I still have another literary theory course in front of me along with a course in Post-Colonial Women’s Literature.  All the same, it feels like an age has gone by since I first rolled down the main drag of Indiana, PA with a car full of my belongings the day before I began this journey.

One of the questions raised in my History of Literary Theory course was: “What is the point of education?”  A great question that can might otherwise be dismissed due to its apparent simplicity-but simple should not be mistaken for simplicity.  I think this is something every one of us who calls him or herself an educator should consider.  Why am I doing what I’m doing?  I say it’s a great question but perhaps it is also a dangerous question.  Hear me out for a moment.

If we begin down the path of reflecting on what it is we are doing, then should be logically move towards the next step of asking how does one do this?  This can lead us to questioning the very methods of how we teach as a means of gauging whether or not we are accomplishing that very aim of education.  Sometimes those answers we find can be encouraging as they reaffirm our competencies as teachers, and they can can also point to areas where we may very well be causing more frustration than clarity.

So, it’s a simple but great question and leads those of us in the education field down a path that is good for us to explore–perhaps a little more often than we’re comfortable doing.  But I remember my Land Navigation and Orientation training as an Army cadet where our instructors constantly reinforced the notion of continually looking around and checking our movements with the map and terrain around us.  Failure to constantly monitor the map, compass and surroundings would surely lead to a lost cadet.  In the same vein, how often to do we find ourselves half-way through a lesson, semester, or school year and not look around and see if we’ve lost our students?

Sometimes good questions aren’t always safe but they’re often the ones that produce the most worthwhile answers.


About fhelvie

I live in CT with my wife and two sons. I am also writing my doctoral dissertation, which is focused on the relationship between American literature and comic book superheroes. I have served as a panelist at a number of conferences discussing my research in comics, medieval literature, and pedagogy. Most recently, I had the good fortune to present at the New York Comic Con. In addition to my work in comics scholarship, I'm also a full-time professor of developmental English.
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