Monday, August 8, 2011

The Rodney Dangerfield of Academia

August, 2011:

She: "You went to grad school at Harvard? Which field?"
I: "The one no one respects."
She: "Education?"
Us: "Hahahahaha!" (but my laughter was bitter...)

My new friend, She, is not alone in her assessment. What is tragic about this very true story is that selecting teaching as a vocation is seen by the academic world as either proof of lack of interest in learning or of lack of intellectual capacity.

While carpooling to an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship academic conference of all the Harvard grad schools about the intersection of Christianity in the disciplines, we introduced ourselves, starting with the front seat: the driver was an astrophysicist, shotgun was a geologist, next to me was a linguist working on his eighth language, another physicist, and then me. When Astrophysicist heard my vocation, he blurted, "Why would you want to come to this event?" I was too shocked to respond. His blurting was the first time I'd faced academic snobbery. The silence grew awkward until Geologist came to the rescue, using heavy sarcasm: "Yeah, why would a teacher be interested in anything educational?" We all laughed--I could breathe again--but I was dizzy with bewilderment for a long while.

A very long while--this still bewilders me.

Harvard's motto is Veritas, Truth.
In this case, Truth hurts.

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