Just read this great post on whether or not one should go to graduate school. One especially chilling quote is here:
"Somewhere in the back of your head, your dissertation or your oral exams will be burrowing outwards through your brain tissue with incisors of fear."
Essentially, the message distilled down is that you do not want to take the decision lightly because once you begin you will be a changed person, and you will not be able to become normal again unless you finish. Quitting is not an option, because you will spend the rest of your life with these horribly altered standards.
Hm. It's an excellent article. And seemingly true, although since I'm in the throws of it -- apparently I can't possibly know since:
"Independently evaluating academic life from within its confines is a near-impossibility."
Yikes. I'm glad in a way that I have my family who are oblivious to it all, because they keep me from slipping down into this slope of being unable to think about anything except academia which this article speaks of. But the flipside is of course how lonely I feel. Since I'm not completely engulfed in it, I don't relate well to the other students, can't join in their evening jam sessions, etc.. And I end up feeling not like a true academic because I'd rather knit toys than read another stupid article. I remember my neuroscience prof who graded our exams at her son's chess tournament and then had to apologize to the class for making errors. She is a brilliant scientist with three kids, and manages to always look great and have a smile. I look up to her, but then her area of research is stress - so I'm sure she has plenty of remedies, and a good perspective. I wonder though, what goes on in the dark recesses of her brain?
So, on another note - I've started reading this book, Weapons of mass instruction. Which I think should be required reading for... well everybody I guess, but mainly for those involved in the schooling of our children. What a CRAZY book. I read the prologue and literally felt my mind blown. It encapsulates everything I felt about school when I was a kid, but could never articulate. To me, The point of school felt like it was making everyone into mindless little automatons, to enforce class warfare and discourage original thought. And it's all the things that I fear when sending my kiddo to a traditional school. As she moped over breakfast this morning with some vague sense of dread, I can just feel it - she's going to have the same unsaid fears that I did. They are wordless, you are simply left feeling like there's something wrong with you.
She told me yesterday morning that a little girl told her she would not be her friend if she didn't believe in God, so she had to lie. Fuck. I wanted to say, "you don't want to be friends with that little bigot anyway" But instead I just told her that Jesus believed in kindness to everyone, regardless of their beliefs and that she should tell her that next time. It's hard to feel outnumbered when you're surrounded by nothing but rules of conformity. No support for the six year old who wants to wait for proof before she believes in something. Unicorns? Fairies? sure. But guy-in-the-sky who watches everything you do - no, you need to just take that as fact.