Last week, I crossed the stage and officially (in front of an audience) received my Master in Liberal Studies. So I am done with that – after four years of night classes and the occasional weekend seminar – I now have a degree to hang on my office wall, and if I choose, I can put more letters after my name (but I would never do that because in my work environment it’s considered pretentious unless one has a PhD and that PhD is job-related). Bill Nye the Science Guy also got a degree at my ceremony – and honorary doctorate in Science – which turned the event into a bit of a celebrity watch fest. I’m not sure the purpose of giving honorary degrees to people who already have several (he has six), and have no connection to the institution at all – but I suppose there is some bit of politics in it that I don’t understand.
In any case, I am 42 and have just finished my second university degree – and I have to admit that watching the doctoral students cross the stage, I was a bit jealous of their red robes and floppy caps – envious of their accomplishment and their new titles of Dr. Though I never felt this way during my undergrad, or while working on my master’s, I was suddenly taken with the idea of doing a PhD.
Fortunately, that idea was fleeting, when I realized two days later that not only am I already enrolled in more study, but that I would like any additional learning beyond that to be really much more hands on and applied.
For one thing, I’ve been accepted for precepts study in my Zen tradition – a process that will take a year or more to complete. And for another thing, I am really very drawn to textile and art techniques, and am already hungry for time in which to pursue those interests. Another formal degree is always a possibility I suppose, but for the next two (or more) years, I have other things to do with my educational time. In addition to the precepts study which starts next month, I’ve enrolled in an eight-week beginner weaving course for January – and Maiwa has so many amazing textile courses that I would love to fit into my life.
What this does highlight for me – the thinking about the PhD and all – is that I am quite happy with the idea that I will always be learning, enrolled in some form of education, and following my interests in both formal and informal ways. A degree is just one way of expressing educational attainment – and not the most appropriate one for what I want to learn and where I am right now. The desire to learn, however, has an ongoing place in my life – and I am so glad to set the master’s program aside and move onto a new course of study!