I’ve been lurking for awhile, on a mailing list, thought I had joined but when I tried to post something realized I hadn’t. I think I’d joined something, but wasn’t signed up for the forums perhaps. Anyway, I’m an ESL teacher living in Korea, but plan to return to Canada in the summer or sometime after depending on certain things such as when my wife’s permanent residency comes through, acceptance to university and such. Which brings me to my next point.
Furthering my education / Where to go next -
I’ve been teaching English for nine years here, the last three in Universities, and it’s time to move on. I want to go home. I’ll need to work and find some kind of career when I go back home as I’ll need money for things like food and a place to live. Pesky reality huh? This presents some dilemmas and problems for me. What to study? I’m kind of torn. I had previously applied to do a Masters of Adult Education through a distance program from St. FX in Antigonish, Nova Scotia which is on the East coast of Canada for those who might not know, and not too far from my hometown. I taught an English camp with a previous grad and he really talked up the program, said it was self directed, and you could basically study pretty much any subject as long as you could tie it in with Adult Education which is really broad. I figured I could perhaps do something with my secular bent in mind. I got accepted, and I went back to Canada during my summer vacation time at my university to attend a three week foundation program. And much like my friend had told me, people were really encouraged to go ‘almost’ any direction. Some were focusing on stuff in health, mentoring, african education, autism, and many others. I felt that everyone was encouraged to follow their passions, except me. Some of the profs. actually were more supportive than others. One professor who I had a meeting with wasn’t. Actually it wasn’t even a scheduled meeting. I was helping her carry something to her office and we started chatting. I was supposed to meet with her the next day.
Anyway, a little background to this meeting and the time before it; since I wanted to study something that might be somehow related to atheism, secularism, humanism, with interests in science and perhaps even the need to help educate regarding pseudoscience or even perhaps the challenges a person emigrating from a very fundamentalist religious society such as the middle east might have to deal with when moving to a more secular society. Actually there were many possible interests I had. Because of this, during our group discussions I made it a point to identify as an atheist, since I was hoping to study something that I would be more passionate with than simply focusing on the ESL teaching I’d been doing. I was truly interested in learning from other students and seeing how parallels in their own research might give me ideas. For instance, the professor who I met with was coming from a feminist background. I thought that since feminists had to fight for their voice to be heard in society and that there were much critical research in adult education coming from a feminist perspective.
I thought she would be one of the most open to my ideas. I was wrong. During our chat, which lasted an hour, she berated me and accused me of ‘every time you open you mouth it’s atheism’ and ‘what are you going to be, a professional atheist?’, ‘It’s interesting, but it’s not adult education’ and so on. It ended with me in tears and confused. Needles to say I didn’t meet with her the next day. In fact I was depressed and upset for the next three days. It just seemed like it was ok to do academic work in regards to any group, feminists, queer theories of education, theories about the need for racial consciousness in education, social movement theory etc, but apparently, not atheism. She went on to say how there wasn’t any research to build on and similar things. Now I think it’s fair for her to state the truth about the current state of the field of adult education if it does in fact not have a lot of research. My thought was at one point in time, Adult Education wasn’t itself a distinct field, and there had to be a first person to branch off into feminist adult ed., queer theory, black theory and all the different branches. It seems ridiculous and defensive to me to say you can’t study this because it hasn’t been studied. Anyway, as I said, I think she has every right to argue her points, but the way she did it was unprofessional, hostile, and personal, and is probably one of the factors in why I dropped out only a few months after beginning.
Now as I said, some other profs were more open to my ideas. The prof who was assigned as my advisor was not as hostile as the professor I told you about before, but she still seemed pretty resistant to be following what I saw as an area that I could legitimately study. However, anytime I tried to make any mild criticisms of anything religious I was warned I was out of line. I’m sure lots on this forum can relate to not being ‘allowed’ to challenge religion. There is still a big taboo. I was surprised however that I came up this much conflict from within academia. Anyway, my advisor was letting me have maybe three or four sources on my reading list from what I’ll call ‘secular literature’ but cautioned about having too much as it would take me ‘off topic’. From what I read I disagreed. I thought there was a legitimate area of study, and that I could find ways to link it to adult education, especially within the philosophy of adult education, and that I would be able to state a logically defensible argument as to why this stuff ‘should’ matter to the field. I probably could have stood my ground and insisted on it, but I didn’t want to spend years fighting with my advisor just for the right to explore and research, and I also didn’t want to not be true to myself. Because of this, not wanting to study what my heart wasn’t interested in, and partly because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do distance learning, at least not in the direction I felt I was being steered, I decided to drop out and listen to the little voice inside me that was telling me something was wrong. So even though I’d already spent a couple of thousand I decided to drop out before I spent more on something that just didn’t feel right.
In an ideal world the only thing I’d be basing my decision on would be what am I interested in. Reality has different things to consider. I’ll be moving to Canada with my wife who is Korean. I’ve heard many stories that it can be hard for people who immigrate to find work. So I decided that perhaps a good idea would be to do a Bachelor of Education since I can finish it in one year and be back in the work force. But again, it’s not something I’m really passionate about. My wife says if I decide to do a masters and ph.d instead maybe she will stay in Korea while I study. I don’t know if that would end up being a good thing for our marriage. Neither would struggling financially while I am a student for a long time if she can’t get work. I’m 39 and she’s 37 so I kind of feel like times running out. I’m not sure what the right thing to do is. Maybe working as a high school teacher could be ok. Perhaps I could study more secular things part time.
I’m curious about the Master’s degrees that are listed on this site in conjunction with I think it was Buffalo University. I did a double major in English and Philosophy. I think the degree was about Science and Public Understanding. I am really interested in stuff like that, I’m constantly reading stuff about science, and it’s effect, conflict with religion. But I wonder if having not done a science based BA degree if I even meet the pre reqs. I could do a masters that is more about philosophy, and religious studies, or perhaps philosophy of science and skepticism or something. Another important thing is that I want to study what I am passionate about, but I also want to know that I can have a career after I’m done, perhaps as a professor.
Has anybody here done the Masters degree through CFI and can comment on the prospects after that?