Dissertation candidate- I did not even know that was a thing.
After a year of classes, always worrying for the ‘pink slip’ to be delivered, it was finally here: Residency 851 (whatever that meant…)
Flying out, I longed to escape. I am no academic, but to make the change I want to see, this was the route that higher spirits had placed me on. With an uncomfortable feeling, I packed my bag with dresses and high heels- no jeans allowed (yay for the land of the free!). The flight went well, but the Uber driver had to circle the hotel about three times until he realized it was in the gated compound complex, with armed security guards welcoming us to the high fenced in campus. The hotel was lovely, beautiful palm trees bordered pool, inviting heat, and cozy crackling open air fire place. Oh, but little did I know.
The next late morning check in was in building 5115- Like “Hotel California” you were able to check in but you could never leave. Talk about experiencing what our students have to go through. What in the world are we thinking? An industrial warehouse was more inviting than this environment. Extremely high ceilings, covered by barren silver pipes, no windows or connection to the outside world, insanely deep loudly humming of consistently running air conditioners- making you wonder if everybody else was suffering like you were, or if you were losing your mind, and the academic pressure of maybe not being good enough to even be here, got to you and was influencing your brain.
After 5 minutes in this building and this existential experience, we walked into a lecture from a guest speaker who compared the dissertation process to a marathon. For one, I am not a runner- so buying into my interest obviously did not work. For two, was he supposed to motivate us? Because obviously, that did not work. The picture that was stuck with most of us was facing a wall, and running into it with no real resolution how to overcome it. When he discussed that he walked across the stage when they called his title and name, I swore to myself, I will never make it about the title and the gown! I will not walk; I will not have the title on my grave stone- which will be hard to do anyway since I want my ashes to be spread on a horse pasture…This is not what a doctorate should be about! This is not what I want to stand for! And I might never get there- but one thing for sure, my learning is about making a valuable contribution to knowledge and humanity, easing suffering and bringing happiness.
Rupert Isaacson once mentioned that life is easier if you do not get attached. I did not know what that meant at that time, and folks could interpret it in many ways, but what I think he meant, and what helps me at this point, I am not attached to a title or social recognition- what matters to me, is that the ideas we have get out there because I have seen them work to the benefits of children and folks who suffer. And they are not my ideas; they have been developed by a fantastic team, but without the opportunity of spreading them, they will only benefit a few. I am not attached to getting a title, but I am fighting to allow kiddos to get the best education and possibilities they deserve no matter where they come from, what challenges they face, or what their background is. Kids have a chance to make this world a better place- with or without my title!
I finally decided to be a self- advocate and addressed this issue with the head of the university and got permission to go to the greenspace- what a relief!
...and I started looking for the beauty in things- amazing art work around campus, serenity!
And then, I looked around, and folks were studying, often to self- help, prove they are worth it, leave their job and improve their pay scale- really? This is what this is about? What happened to essential contribution of knowledge? Changing the world for the better? Ahhh just illusions and the visions of dreamers?
This study is like boot camp for academics- people are kicked out, running out, escaping to hold on to their dear sanity- wondering if a lot of creativity and innovation is lost because of the process- sounds familiar-yeah, just like our education system. So, let’s change it! Let’s value strength and creativity, perseverance and diversity, non-conformity and uniqueness. Movement Method will make change possible for our learners and educators.