I was recently asked why I am considering pursuing a Masters degree in English. Why am I pursuing a job in the humanities when the economy is awful and the state is cutting jobs left and right? We all know that teachers do not make a lot of money, and the person asking me about my decisions and goals had valid reasons for questioning me. Now that I have had time to reflect (only a couple of hours actually) I now understand the importance of the question and the significance of my answer.
My reflected answer is this. I want to be an English teacher. I technically want to lecture at a four year university or at a community college. This is my goal until Xavier is older and then I intend to pursue my Ph.D. which will develop into a career in modern to post-modern feminism. True there won’t be a lot of money, but I’m not looking to be filthy rich-merely financially stable. There’s also a very small part of me that doesn’t want to leave the realm of academia (I mean come on it’s freaking amazing in here)! Plus I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to find a job somewhere in this country with a Master’s degree and we’re not against relocating.
But ultimately the reasons why I want to pursue teaching at the collegiate level are because of the level of importance that the humanities play in the makeup of our students. In English 101 and 201 we learn how to write and think critically. We learn how to analyze articles and ads. These English classes teach us how to evaluate and use critical analysis which ultimately leads to better communication within the work place and in life.
I want to teach because we need people (teachers) to cultivate the next generation. The vital skills that composition and literature classes teach students are necessary in life. I learned the most about myself as an individual in a literature class. I learned how to evaluate and critically analyze texts which led me to further my understanding of the world. I learned to expand my own personal views and think outside the box. I learned about oppression, freedom, liberty, and personal evaluations in my English classes. I opened my mind and expanded myself. I then took that knowledge and applied it to the outside world and to situations I found myself in. How can I not want to impart that amazing knowledge to future students?
English cultivates our future lawyers, doctors, politicians, and business owners. It adds strength to communication and it is always changing. We have to keep up. The humanities play one of the most important roles in the undergraduate experience. The skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and communication are acquired through these classes. Thus makes English teachers some of the most valued (underpaid) assets to a university.
My love for literature and composition can be traced back to kindergarten when I learned to read. I have always loved books and the knowledge each one possesses individually. That love for reading transferred into a love for writing, which then led me to a love for literature classes. I cannot change my intellectual make up and try to pursue something different; this is who I am meant to be. I can’t imagine not trying to impart that knowledge, even now as a Writing Tutor in the ULC I love giving my “How to write a thesis” lecture. I’m in love and I understand the importance of what it is we do as English majors.
So thus concludes my rant, well so far. I know that an English degree isn’t exactly the best paying degree program. I’m ok with that. I guess if I wanted to make a lot of money I would have tried to be a gold digger (haha) because I wouldn’t have gotten far in the math or science department. You’re supposed to laugh.