For students and teachers, and a great many families, it is "Back-to-School" month. In many states, school starts in August, while there are a few that still stubbornly cling to a post-Labor Day start. Like most Americans, I view back-to-school as the real start of a new year. For the last six years, I bought new notebooks, pencils, pens, and even crayons for the start of school. Last week, I caught myself wandering the "seasonal" displays at Target and Walmart with a sense of nostalgia.
I am ambivalent.
I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I will miss the school year. And yet, I'll never miss teaching what I was teaching or being a student where I studied.
I did not like my four years as a doctoral student. With the exception of the third year, during which I had no classes and was not yet trying the job market, would have been the only acceptable year -- I was left alone to read and teach. However, I ended up hospitalized with serious medical problems that year. The medical issues with my vision, internal bleeding, et cetera, ruined the one year of peace I might have enjoyed.
There is the constant thought that I should have studied within another discipline, or at least another department. There is the hope that I will be able to craft a career in the creative aspects of media, which I love. My degree is merely evidence that I can work unsupervised. I'm not sure what else it proves.
I know I have a lot I could offer students. What I don't know is when, where, or even what I might teach in the future.
For now, I will write and write and write. I will be my own student and teacher, assisted by hundreds of books, magazines, movies, music, and the Internet.
Maybe I'll use the crayons along the way, after all.