I couldn't agree more...

From a new article at the Chronicle about the reasons why the Ph.D. isn't necessarily the only (or the real, in my opinion,) mark of a true scholar...

"Reading an essay by Alex Pang, whom I had known as a postdoctoral fellow, made me catch my breath. A historian of science, Alex discussed how leaving academe had led him to realize that nonhistorians can and do provide thought-provoking analyses of historic problems. Sometimes, Alex wryly noted, being outside academe actually made their analyses better.

I found his essay reassuring. It meant that, although I was leaving higher education, I would still grow intellectually. My experiences since leaving bear that out. Because I live in a large city, as opposed to the small college towns where I was a professor, I live in a world of museums, lectures, public seminars, extraordinary bookstores, fantastic archives, and libraries. I live in a place that has racial as well as ethnic diversity. All of those factors encourage me to think about historical problems in a rigorous albeit different fashion from how I saw them in academe.

The people I have met in the nonacademic world share my enthusiasms. I belong to a book group founded, much to my delight, by reporters who work or worked at NPR as well as many experts from other federal agencies. Our discussions are just as wide ranging and thought provoking as the ones I had in academe.

I live where a lot of archives are—which makes research easier than it was in academe. I write and publish. My new book, researched and written completely outside academe, was just published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Since leaving academe, I have continued to endorse the belief that being an intellectual entails analyzing and understanding issues from multiple angles. I hope that in advising their undergraduates, academics will encourage their students to share that view. More important, I hope faculty members will encourage students to do informational interviews and extensive research on career options—before entering a Ph.D. program, which is, after all, only one path to the life of the mind."
--Alexandra M. Lord

(All bold is my emphasis.)

Source: http://chronicle.com/article/And-If-You-Just-Dont-Go-/65571/

So, no--I am not considering leaving the Ph.D. out in the land of the unfinished. Of course, I will finish. I just think that this is good advice and that Lord is absolutely correct in emphasizing that we should be searchers before submitting to the label. The search is what makes a scholar. I have met plenty of people who hold higher degrees...and not all of them are scholars. Nor does one need to be pretentious to be a scholar. Scholarship should, before all else, fulfill your greatest needs and desires. Your research should always take place to help you explore the problems and/or truths closest to your heart. The only important research is that which is taken up because it MUST be done--not because someone assigns it to you. I know, a lot of good comes out of assigned research. However, the final project will never reach its full potential if the researcher would rather leave the library in pursuit of a video game (and I am not knocking a video game...God knows they provide mindless entertainment for me).

In closing: there are scholars everywhere. There are thinkers everywhere. And some of the best have never set foot in college. They are the observers and those who truly live life.


C-Bear said…
You have no idea how much better this made me feel, Susie! Haha I agree as well :)
Susie said…
Me, too, Claire!

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