Derek Allard, “Master” of Education

I’ve been pursuing my Master’s of Education part-time since 2003.  I took a year and a bit off in the middle of there somewhere, but other then that, I’ve been pretty steadily marching towards it for 5 years.  In April I finally finished off the last of my course requirements, and last week I got the official paperwork; I’ve finally finished off the degree.  Huzzah! I’m now legally allowed to call myself a “Master”, um… not that I ever would.  Oh no wait, I would.

I’ve considered sharing my final thesis with the world but I’ve decided against it.  Frankly, its been under enough scrutiny and the truth is that I just don’t want to think about it anymore.  It’s basically a theory on how to teach highly technical concepts to a largely untechnical audience.  Sort of a theoretical backdrop to the teaching I do.  It may undergo a few changes and get resurrected yet.  We’ll see.

So would I recommend the process to anyone else? In a word, “maybe”.

I’m always pro-education, regardless of the field or method with which you choose to attain that education, but the formal academic process is frankly not worth the work involved most of the time in my opinion.  It is here that I should clarify what I mean by “work” in that last sentence.  I’m not talking about the “late nights writing and studying” type of work that is instrumental to any type of learning, but rather I’m talking about the bureaucratic bullshit.  The “jump through these hoops” type of crap that you’d only expect to find in the educational system.  Completing the degree was like living in a Kafka novel.

But once you figure out which hoops you need to jump through, it can be very rewarding.  There were only a handful of professors I met who I felt actually had anything substantial to offer me, but those handful made the whole thing worth it, and enriched me greatly. To this end, let me specifically mention Dr. Jennifer Jenson, who is probably single-handedly responsible for helping me “get through it”.  Her work on video games as learning tools, is frankly brilliant.  She’s insightful, smart, funny, cute.  If you’re at York University go out of your way to take courses with her.

I think the entire academic process was summed up best by my colleague Peter Paolucci (he holds a PhD, which is relevant to what follows).  He described the process to me as

The triumph of tenacity over reason.

Brilliant.  I’ve never forgotten that, and it turned out to be remarkably prophetic.  In post graduate work it seems that a “B” means bad quality work, and an “A” means good quality work.  A+ is great work.  You don’t really get anything less then a “B”, which on the surface sounds fine, except that you may be asked to refine and resubmit something 10 times for that B.  After your fourth revision, and really all you’re doing is changing a bit of grammar here or adding a single argument there, you start to doubt the wisdom of even finishing.  Again, tenacity over reason.  Stick with it long enough, and you’ll have gained something pretty powerful on the other side.

For my part, I’m glad I did it, but I’m also glad its over. I’ve already been asked if I intend on chasing down a Doctorate.  That’s easy.  Hell no!  At least, not for the foreseeable future.  I’m learning so much every day from the good folks at EllisLab and within the CodeIgniter community, I don’t need more letters after my name right now.

Derek Allard, B.ES, M.Ed  :)


Steve wrote on

Wow! Congratulations man that’s impressive! I feel horrible that I never got the piece of paper that says I know what i’m talking about. Sometimes I consider going back but I just can’t seem to get past all the ‘bureaucratic bullshit’. I’d much rather buy a few books and have at it on my own. Luckily I found an employer that puts more weight into that and interest in the work over a degree.

Again congrats on getting your Masters, I can only imagine the relief you feel now that the finish line is rapidly approaching.

MikeeJay wrote on

Congratulations Master!

Boyink wrote on

Congrats!  Quite the accomplishment especially given the EL workload you’ve taken on at the same time.

Adam Price wrote on

Congratulations, I too will be finishing my degree, at York University (but in ye’old England).

I have to give it to you, after 3 years I don’t think I ever want to see the education system again.

Neil Kelty wrote on


I hope you’ll consider releasing your thesis.

Don’t you want to be Dr. Derek Allard :)

Les wrote on

Congrats Allard! Why does this post remind me of a Metallica song?

Jakob Buis wrote on


I’m hoping to become a master myself one day…just entered university last year…wish me luck :P

Sean wrote on

Congrats -
it’s a good feeling to finally be finished.

Elliot Haughin wrote on

Congratulations Master Allard! That’s an impressive bit of paper you’ve got now.
Just think of all the women you’ll be able to pick up at bars now! :P Just joking!

I think it’s awesome that you’ve got your masters. Does this mean you video tutorials will be all clever now? :)


Ryan Irelan wrote on

Congrats, Derek and welcome to the Club of Masters (mine is in German Literature)!

Kurt Deutscher wrote on

That is so cool Derek, a BIG congratulations. This one quote is exactly what achieving my BS degree was like. I can only imagine the fun a Masters must be.

” The triumph of tenacity over reason.”

Derek wrote on

Oh wow thank you guys for the congrats and good wishes.  These mean a lot to me.  The masters is one of those things that now I look back on and I’m glad I did it, but at the time I was really questioning my wisdom ;)

I’ve never told anyone this, but that year and a bit break in the middle almost spelled the end of it for me - its so hard to regain your enthusiasm when you’d so much rather be doing something else.

All that said though, I think I learn more day in and day out from surrounding myself with smart people then I ever did with a book.  There are so many ways to learn, I think its all about finding what drives you.

Keep learning!

Cliff Persaud wrote on

Congrats man!!!

You and Rich Franklin finally have something in common.

Nathan Smith wrote on

Congrats Derek. I too am chipping away at a masters degree (3 more classes to go). I’d be interested in having a peek at your thesis paper, if you decide to refine and/or release it to the general public. Either way, glad to hear you made it through!

BoltClock wrote on

I am still a long way from university…

But congrats on your degree!

Now Master Derek, demonstrate to us EE 2 as soon as you can.

Paul Burdick wrote on

Congrats, man, about time the Jedi Educational Council of Canada granted you the title of “Master”.

Morris Rozen wrote on

Congratulations on a milestone achievement!

Bram wrote on

Congrats. Now you are both a Master at Education and a Master of Education, right?

trif3cta wrote on

“The masters is one of those things that now I look back on and I’m glad I did it, but at the time I was really questioning my wisdom ;)”

Spoken like a true champ. Congratulations sir.

Patrick Hidy, EdD wrote on

Congratulations.  A colleague tempted me to go back and get an EdD at Texas A&M;.  I said, “Why not?”  Six summers later, I had it, and the salary became instantly larger.  I, however teach at a community college.
Note to aspiring graduate students, believe me when I say… it is harder to get in than to stay in.
There are many inane hoops to pass through, but Kurt’s quote is mostly true…“the triumph of tenacity over reason.”