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 :)