Mastery

I hate going to school.

Don’t get me wrong. I love learning, and I think education is one of the most important things for a better society. I weep openly at the celebrated idiots that are considered heroes to much of the American public. I’m tired of uneducated, untalented, and mostly useless people becoming rich and famous. On top of everything else, I’m quite certain if I ever seriously used the words ‘selfie’ or ‘hashtag’ my IQ would drop significantly enough that I might not recover.

Alright, maybe that is a little melodramatic, but my point stands. Intelligence and general thinking is beginning to be considered a bad thing, and promises a frightening future. (This might be a comedy, but I see the potential for documentary here.)  Education is important, and everyone should be making it a point to learn something new on a daily basis.

Wait, what was my point?  Oh, yeah.  I hate going to school.

I know this sounds like a contradiction, but in my mind it makes sense.

Learning can take place anywhere, as long as a person is using their mind and, well, learning something new.  It can be a silly dance technique, a new exercise or maybe a recipe to improve health, a small science fact that won’t technically effect your everyday life but is kind of cool.  Learning is beautiful because it can be anything that keeps your mind working and makes you a little better for knowing it.

School however has a different focus.  Instead of creating people who love to learn, there is a push to insert specific facts and abilities as neatly as possibly on a short timeline with the idea that this will create a knowledgeable group of graduates from both high school and college who are ready to compete in a global market.  Sure, it works for some, but there are also a large number of people who somehow skate through without seeming to have any actual practical skills or common sense.

I’m getting off track here.  I promise, this was not meant to be a rant on the state of education in America, and I will not turn it into one.  Let’s just leave it as there are things that work, and there are things that don’t and move on.

See, right now I am working on my Masters of Education with a specialty in Library and Media.  Not the expected major of a person who doesn’t like school.  How did this happen?  Why am I continuing on for a Masters degree if I hate going to school?

Well, it started a few years ago.  I was working in an Air Force Child Development Center in Okinawa Japan.  I took the job because my older daughter was getting ready to start kindergarten and I needed something to do with myself while she was gone.  (My girls are six years apart, so there was just one kiddo at the time.)  I had a certification in Holistic Massage Therapy and one semester of community college, as well as a few jobs I had worked during high school ranging from babysitting, filing in a doctor’s office, fast food drive thru monkey, and grocery clerk.  The CDC on base paid better than most of the other jobs and had a high enough turnover that they always needed new employees.

I didn’t think I’d like it.  I mean I liked my own child, but other people’s kids were touch and go.  At first I kept going because I liked the challenge.  Later, I realized I just loved the kids.  Seriously, there were a few in there I would have adopted if their parents ever decided they were done.  So I worked to make myself better.  I didn’t want to just be a daycare worker, I wanted to be a teacher.

I found a school where I could get my AA in Early Childhood Education online, working completely to my own pace.  I pushed it through in 18 months.  It would have been faster if I didn’t have to wait a few months between semesters for financing and school book shipments to go through.  A couple months later I started a new online program to received my BA in Child Development.  I could have stuck with early childhood, but I wanted to diversify a little.

I finished my BA almost a year ago.  We were already in Belgium, and I was unemployed working on finishing my novel while I finished my degree.  I had already realized I had romanticized my time in my former job.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the time with the kids, seeing the dawning of knowledge in their little faces.  As I found space from my former career I realized no matter how much I loved the children I had worked with, I hated the environment many of the adults seemed to work hard to create.  Working in a building with approximately 60 woman between the ages of 20 and 40 can bring a previously undiscovered level of competitiveness and cattiness.  I’d like to say I was immune, and always stayed above it, but that would be a lie.  To be completely honest I didn’t always like the people I worked with, and I didn’t always like who I was while working in that environment.  It was toxic for me.

So knowing all that, why continue on to get a Masters?  There are a few reasons of course.  First of course it the Doctor Who association.  (Yeah, that’s right.   I would totally vote Saxon.)

Secondly, as long as I am in school, I don’t have to worry about paying back student loans.  And yes, I know taking out more loans to avoid paying them now doesn’t work precisely.

Third  is the potential for a better job.   A Masters of Education is not where the big bucks are.  I mean, come on it’s education, one of the most undervalued fields in America.  However, as much as I want to support my family from my writing, that isn’t happening yet, and it might not.  Many writers need a ‘real’ job to make ends meet.

Finally, is the desire to finish what I started.  Sure, I have two degrees, but I am hardly an expert in the field.  Even if I have realized that there are many aspects of the field that make me want to run away screaming, I have worked hard to get ahead.  Throwing that away completely now would be a waste.

At the end of this week, I will be halfway through my degree.   I’m not always sure I’m happy about that, but I’m still determined to become a master.  It’s been a rough ride.  I’m always relieved and proud when I finish a class.  Unfortunately the next week another class starts and I am thrown down into a minor depression, desperately wishing I didn’t have to do it again.   I sit at my computer before each assignment, BSing my way through as I regurgitate the same information that has been taught in every previous class, rarely learning anything new.  My eyes glaze over, as I lose my focus and wish I was anywhere else, doing anything else.  But still, I persevere.  I push through, knowing that as hard as it is now, I will never forgive myself if I quit.

 

So tell me people, am I alone here?  What do you push through doing, even when would rather be doing anything else?

 

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