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Grad School (and any school, really) and Learning :

Obsidian Proboscidean
Here is a thought process I had concerning how people view learning.

Since graduating, I've had people ask me, "Why aren't you going to grad school?" I answer, "Because I don't have the money for that, and why do I really need a graduate degree in art?"

Their follow-up question is, "Don't you like learning?" (sometimes it's asked as a polite question; sometimes it's asked in a tone dripping with disdain, making me certain they must think I'm an intellectual dwarf who can't possibly follow a complex train of thought)

After several of those conversations and a bit of reflection time, it dawned on me: Quite a few people around me seem to think that the only place you can learn is in a school.

Now that I remember (assuming my brain isn't creating false memories), I've heard people say things like, "You have to go to school, otherwise you wouldn't learn." Or, there have been times when I was absent from school (due to illness) for a long period of time and some people would treat me as a truant, despite the fact that I spent most of my time reading. Or, the fact that some teachers (and some professors, sadly) seemed to assume that all the students just watched TV all day during the summer breaks and weekends.

What do you think are the ramifications of thinking that you can only learn in school? What can I do to convince people who ask these things that I have a valid reason not to go to grad school? (I do realize that for some careers, you need a graduate degree. But you definitely don't need one for art. I don't think you even need an undergraduate degree.)

Also, what do you think about the degree as a signaling object?

edited 8th Dec '11 3:14:07 PM by BlackElephant

I'm an elephant. Rurr.
 2 Aceof Spades, Thu, 8th Dec '11 3:18:43 PM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free
I think "I can't afford it right now" should be a valid enough reason on its own. And if you can find a job you're satisfied with without then good for you. Some people just don't like dragging out the education process. (Also, it's perfectly valid to take a break and come back to more education later on in life, though a lot of people don't seem to think that.)

Anyway, isolating learning simply into school terms is kind... dumb, as far as I can see. I mean, some careers, like professional mathemeticisn or the sciences, and lots of the arts, involve a lot of continual learning in order to keep up with their professions. If you're not learning, chances are in a lot of careers you're not doing your job right.

And uh, .. .what do you mean by "signaling object"?

edited 8th Dec '11 3:19:35 PM by AceofSpades

Obsidian Proboscidean
I mean, a degree (in something that does not require one) signals to employers that you (maybe) had the patience/discipline/whatever trait they seek to jump through their hoops.

Not having one doesn't mean you didn't have the patience or discipline, it's just some people think it's proof that you did (I guess they're trying to use it as a filter).

edited 8th Dec '11 3:29:45 PM by BlackElephant

I'm an elephant. Rurr.
 4 Psyclone, Thu, 8th Dec '11 4:23:12 PM from Somewhere else
A Superior Spider-Man
Try giving them a copy of this:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1528125592/dont-go-back-to-school-a-handbook-for-learning-any?ref=users

Seriously though, the "cannot afford it" argument may be enough but you can always say you like learning at your own pace. After all:

"It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry." ~ Einstein

Any child can follow rules. True adulthood is knowing which ones to break and when.
 5 Carciofus, Thu, 8th Dec '11 4:46:33 PM from Alpha Tucanae I
Is that cake frosting?
I answer, "Because I don't have the money for that, and why do I really need a graduate degree in art?"
At least over here, grad school is not something you pay for. It's a job. You apply for it, or someone offers it to you; and if you get it, you also get a stipend which is more than enough to live on your own reasonably comfortably.

There is also a possibility of entering by paying a tuition fee instead, but nobody does that.

I'm pretty sure that the situation is more or less the same in other countries: where the PHD is not seen as a job. they offer scholarships anyway.

But in any case, doing a PHD makes sense only if you want a career for which you need a PHD. Doing it "for learning" is nonsense — I learned things during it, obviously, but most of them were more related to how to do research than to specific subjects in my field.

In any case, you certainly don't need to stay at the university for learning things.
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 6 Gabrael, Fri, 9th Dec '11 7:15:59 PM from My musings Relationship Status: Is that a kind of food?
Zombie Polar Bears!
Interesting. I'm in graduate school right now because I can't find a job. All I hear is I'm over qualified or under experienced.

I would encourage almost everyone to at least take a few college classes. It can only help for the most part. But if you are happy with what you've got, why change it? My boyfriend is stopping at his masters and if he does to the phd route, it's going to be years down the road.

When I get done, I'll like to have a job and work for a bit. But if the economy is still the way it is, I may go for my phd early.

And at least in art-there are some galleries and fellowships you can't get unless you have a MFA. But there are plenty of people who make a living off of it without. I still do commissions as I can. When it comes to art, it's all networking and marketing yourself well.

edited 9th Dec '11 7:16:14 PM by Gabrael

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx
 7 The Earth Sheep, Fri, 9th Dec '11 8:38:54 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up][up] In the U.S., it's only like that for math students (because Engineers need hadron colliders, Doctors need MRI machines, but Mathematicians need a netbook and that's it), at least in my experience.

Anyway, education always has to be a personal decision. You know all those high school hooligans who talk about how they're not learning anything at school so they shouldn't have to go? That's because they're in school for someone else. People who drop out of college almost always do it because they're not working on their own initiative. If you are working of your own free will, any school has better tools to meet your needs than anywhere else. If you aren't, school can't do anything for you.

Not sure if that answers the question, though.
Still Sheepin'
 8 Drunk Girlfriend, Fri, 9th Dec '11 9:57:19 PM from Castle Geekhaven
I think that it's important to make a distinction between "education" and "learning".

You go to school to be educated, but learning is a life-long endeavor. It's also pretty important to understand that education doesn't really mean much unless you supplement it with real life experience, because there's also a difference between knowing something and deeply understanding it.

A prime example is my mother. She's very educated, and has a college degree and multiple certifications. However, she's not very smart when it comes to real-world dilemmas. She's not very good at interpersonal relationships, even though she has a bit of paper that says she's certified to sell things, she's terrible at managing her finances even though she has another bit of paper that says she should be. And so on.

edited 9th Dec '11 10:00:34 PM by DrunkGirlfriend

"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
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Total posts: 8
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