Saturday, September 12, 2009

On Going to Grad School

Just read the good homie Colin's amazing post and was inspired to write about my education, or lack thereof.

Basically, I'm terrified of school. Terrified of not being in school. Terrified of confronting how I've been institutionalized to expect to be in a classroom every September. And mostly terrified that after all of that socialization -- 17 years, not including summers -- I still don't know shit.

I've been thinking a lot about applying to grad schools recently. Part of it is due to the fact that it's my "fall back plan." But I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit that I've felt this overwhelming need to theoretically understand the parts of myself I've been running from all these years. For me, school has always been a liberating experience, even in its most demoralizing times. I was always that introverted kid with a book (or documentary) stuck beneath my arm. I absolutely love the process of learning, of being challenged, of feeling like I'm growing.

The problem recently is that I've realized how much of my schooling was bullshit. Most times it didn't challenge me. It royally fucked me up in terms of thinking about race and class and privilege, just in its structure. So there's the practical part of me that looks at school as the most "productive" next step, one that I hope, if approached in the right way, will be liberating and fulfilling and challenging as fuck.

Then there's the other part of me that knows that schools will invariably reinforce all the shit I've always hated anyway: who can speak the loudest, who's the sassiest, who takes up the most space, who uses the most obscure words or can pull some random theorist out of their ass.

But maybe that's just my experience?

And then there's the cynic in me. I hate how competitive school is. I hate how, no matter the program or its intention, it's inevitably set up to make you feel like shit. I have a hard time thinking of myself "studying" the life and death circumstances of me and my communities, especially when it's caught up in my own and other people's insecure bullshit. I have a hard time chatting it up about what conferences I want to attend or papers I want to present. Yes, I know education is a business. It's like a job. And for me, that's exactly the problem.

So the obvious answer is that going to school doesn't mean shit about getting an education. But right now, it's the only reasonable alternative I can think of that would allow me to sit around and read books all day.

...To Be Continued (I'm sure...)


Grace said...

What good timing! I just started looking up grad schools today. I'm making the leap and applying for PhD programs. And the last line of your post is a big reason why.

Jay said...

funny how that works, huh gracie?

any chance you're looking at programs in california? ;)

C said...

u go, so tough. there is zero doubt in my mind that if u end up going to grad school, youd not only be able to nabvigate your way to making an impact on this world, but also being happy while reading hella books. =P