Friday, July 14, 2006
Why have your head ‘permanently damaged’?
There is much taunting and cajoling for those who ‘out of their ‘wildest’ thoughts’ decide to embark on a doctoral program. They are definitely in for a ‘permanent head damage’ (PhD), as the snide goes. The image of a rugged dressing, untidy and unkempt hair and some dilapidated, dirty bags full of books is clearly etched on the minds of those who dismiss them who have undertaken the eternal ruin of the head (sic). From more positive thinking, a PhD is supposed to compensate financially for the amount of time and energy spent in school. There are always dreams and prospects of a good salary with a good life to go with it; nice car, spacious villa … you know, all that goes with a happily-ever-after ending, like a romantic movie or book. With the revered title, Dr. respect comes your way with the people just imagining the good that is to come from your endeavors. We hardly take cognizance of the cognitive fact of further studies. I have always, however, respected a humble gesture I received almost a decade ago from humble people. I had just finished my high school education and had qualified for the university. In my country then, one had to wait for an agonizing one and a half years before joining varsity. Having spent a significant amount of time away from my village, I chose this time to bond more with my roots. As a bright son of the village, a number of parents who had their sons and daughters in high school approached me to tutor their sons and daughters during the holidays. They utterly disregarded the fact that art subjects were my strong points. I have to admit in this public space that I really struggled in Chemistry, and to a lesser extent, Maths and Physics in high school. This is the main reason I was admitted to a BA degree at varsity. The parents would however not hear any of this; I continued tutoring the high school students during my undergraduate days, and as the parents insisted, on these subjects normally regarded as tough. Interesting enough, as I progressed at varsity, the easier it became for me to proficiently tutor and teach them chemistry, Biology (which I never undertook in high school), and mathematics, as I easily coped with my literature modules at varsity. Two of my high school ‘holiday student’s’ have recently completed degrees in engineering, having passed well in sciences in their matrix examinations. Their parents have forever being thankful to date for my assistance to their children. I am a fresh PhD graduate, and I am equally thankful to the parents for trusting in me. I have realized that undertaking further studies not only makes you competent in your area of specialization, but also makes it easier for you to grasp new and concepts and ideas you have not encountered before. I have had of late to do some exciting environmental research in natural disaster management, and the professor I was working with was full of plaudits for a job well done. While studying for my Masters, I had a chance to tutor in information technology to undergraduate students. Don’t forget that all my university studies (both undergraduate and postgraduate) are in Literature!! I have been at the receiving end from sources that believe that with literature, all I can do is write novels, poetry and plays, hence I will die a pauper since there is no money in publishing. I hardly bother answering to their comments, since I believe I am capable of anything at this level. I am sure I can survive any Engineering course, anytime. So if one asks, why a PhD, I think I have all the answers; it is not that hard to become a jack-of-all-trades and a master of all. It all takes positive thinking! I think it pays to have your head permanently damaged. It widens your scope of thinking and enables one to see the larger picture of life.