Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Teaching, Yeah. Research? Maybe.

Time to see if therey's any lint in that navel of mine.

A year ago, when I started teaching at BYU-Idaho, I entered into the thing thinking that -- aside from the money -- what I might get out of the experience is a taste for whether I want to pursue a doctorate in technical communication and end up on the teaching/research end of things, rather than on the practical application side, as I am (kinda, sorta) now.

First, the obligatory reference to bellybuttons:

(And you'll be surprised how hard it is to find a decent copy of this video on YouTube. Too many "Patrick plays his belly while I play unfitting music" versions. Call me a purist.)

This one, fortunately, was easier:

Now, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah. Teaching at BYU-Idaho, and whether it has inspired me to pursue a doctorate and, ultimately, more teaching opportunities.

My navel contemplation comes out to this reading: Prospects are unclear.

To say teaching is the most exciting thing I have done would be to lie. Maybe it has to do with teaching undergraduates -- and those not necessarily serious about writing -- than anything else. That's not to disparage my undergrad students. Many of them are good writers, and, to a student, they are willing to learn or at least jump through the hoops to get a passing grade in their required English class. I come into this teaching thing with the rose-colored glasses of having taken 2 1/2 years of online courses as a grad student with fellow grad students (though we had our fair share of flakes there too) so I'm not coming at the grad/undergrad thing from a neutral position. But part of me wonders if thi would be more enjoyable if I were teaching older students.

Then again, part of me wonders if I'd be better off honing my skills at teaching a while longer before I make any conclusions.

The teaching factor is only of minor concern. I enjoy teaching enough I could go into teaching full-time without too much difficulty. Other aspects of the leap, however, are less appealing.

If I could teach entirely online, without having to move to Logan, I'd be good. We just bought a house in Idaho and are in the throes (final week, we hope) of installing a $17,000 furnace and duct system in it, so to say I want to turn around and sell the house right away to go after a new job isn't appealing. That may turn around to bite me in the butt whether I decide to go further with my education or not, but that's a bridge we'll cross when we come to it. Utah State is moving to make its technical communication doctorate more of an online thing if what my wife (who is in the last semester of her Masters degree in the same program) is telling me is true -- but I have yet to see how that would all work out, as they want to groom new teachers and researchers.

And yeah, there's the research. Is there really anything new to be said in technical communication? Or would some university pay me to tinker around anf uss and futz and not expect results, as the private sector does?


I, too, have worked in the private sector (well, pseudo-private right now. I work for a government subcontractor, which is weird in its own right).

I don't want to do that as a researcher or whatever. So I'll have to think about the research thing a bit longer. Develop a greater curiosity for all things technical communication-y, so to say. So help me.

No comments: