Category Archives: phd

Explaining School

There is nothing more abstract than education, and today I found out just how much. I was getting my nails done and the lady started talking to me. She usually asks about my kids and my work-out regiment. I usually bring a book with me in case there is a wait, so today she asked me about my book. She assumed it is a novel, but I told her it was theory. Our conversation went something like this (this is an approximation of the conversation to the best of my recollection) (also, I took the liberty of fixing her English):

Her: You study that for school?
Me: Yes.
Her: What class are you taking?
Me: This is actually for a class I am teaching.
Her: Oh, so you are done with school.
Me: No, I am about to start more school next year. I guess I am kind of on break.
Her: How far have you gone?
Me: I just finished my MA, and going to start my doctorate next fall.
Her: So you are going to be a doctor?
Me: In a few years, yes.
Her: So you are going to make new medicines?
Me: No, no, not that kind of doctor. A Ph.D.
Her: What is that?
Me: A doctor of philosophy.
Her: What is that?
Me: Well, it is like… um… a fancy degree… um…. well… um… it is the next step after the MA.
Her: What is philosophy?
Me: I guess it is the study of different ways of thinking? Probably. Let’s go with that.
Her: So you are going to become a doctor for thinking?
Me: Sort of.
Her: Like a head doctor?
Me: No, not like that. I will be focusing on literature. So basically different ways of thinking about literature.
Her: Not like a psychiatrist?
Me: No, nothing like that.
Her: So what kind of doctor are you going to be? Who are you treating?
Me: No, no, I won’t be treating anyone. I will be teaching. I am not going to be a science kind of doctor.
Her: So you teach, but you can’t make medicine?
Me: Right. I won’t be a healing doctor. A doctorate isn’t really a doctor, it is kind of… um.. like… a pretend doctor.
This conversation went on for a while, but in conclusion, I think I convinced her that I am about to spend several more years in school to get a make-believe degree, and will write about things that don’t exist. Self promotion is not my forte.