Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Scholarly Identity

Scholar Wannabe was in town. We had lunch. It was nice to see SW again after such a long time. I'm glad we have blogs to keep us updated on each other's lives.

Aside from the catch-up chit chat, the conversation turned to the topic of scholarly identity. SW said that she's always considered herself a teacher. She went towards Scholar-Wannabe'ing so that she could become a teacher. 

(If you know anything about academia in the Western world, you will know that unless you are a prolific researcher and writer, you will be "B-listed" in the eyes of "A-listers.")

"So long as I can make a living teaching, I am comfortable with that," she said.

This past weekend, the stress of having to balance PhD and family led me to seriously re-evaluate my future scholarly identity. 

I remembered why I came to do this PhD: I wanted to be a good therapist, I wanted to teach therapy, and I wanted to learn research.

However, somewhere along the journey, research got pushed to the top of the agenda in my mind. Well, I guess if funding and prestige follows research, and your department is always celebrating who got what funding, you can't help but begin to believe that only research counts.

Never mind that I'm a good therapist. Never mind that I help many people heal. If I don't do research, I am not worthy. I am nothing but a B-lister.

I began to fight that message last weekend.

It matters that I am a therapist. That is my identity. I love doing therapy. I love teaching therapy. And the only reason I do research is so that I can better people's lives! Therapy is important: It changes people's lives for the better!

SW admitted that even though she has the potential to be an A-lister and do research, her passion is really to teach. I completely dig that. I too, want to be led by my passions despite the pressures of institutional expectations.


sonic said...

Hmmm, I guess I will not pursue a position that is overwhelmingly demanding for research.

Fajita said...

"If you're planning on teahcing you should not be in this program," Fajita was told by professor *&$^@.

Lonely Dissertator said...

Sonic: I guess that means you're not too interested in research?

Fajita: I think I like you spicy like this. ;-)

Heather said...

I guess it depends on where you place the most value. On one hand, as an A-lister, you only have to drive yourself, and there is comfort in that because you know you can. It's a huge challenge, but as a B-lister, more of the challenge is out of your hands. You have to pass on and/or apply your knowledge and hope it sticks. Not as dependable, but it's where the most magic happens.

So would you value being more independent and self-motivating, living in a bubble that you only (academically) leave to receive your accolades; or, value being among the masses, planting your knowledge in the minds of others, and getting your accolades in the form of THEIR successes?

sonic said...

I think I am interested in research.
But I just don't want ruin my life because of that.
Sometimes research require thinking and energy 24/7!

I can live like that for a while, as a student, but not for a career...

Scholar Wannabe said...

It's an ongoing journey, I sometimes think.

There are days when I'm at peace with the idea of being a kick-ass teacher, even if the "A-listers" will think of me as a "B-lister."

But there are days when I think, "But wouldn't it be nice to be an A-lister?"

It was good to catch up with you!

Lonely Dissertator said...

Heather: As a researcher, you may get the accolades, but you also contribute to a scholarly field. Not many people are lonesome researchers these days. Research is very much a community endeavor. Unfortunately, with little funding, it gets very competitive, and that's where all the posturing happens. As for me, I just want to do the will of God in my life, whatever that looks like.

Sonic: to be young again! :-)

SW: And you too!