Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reflections on a Life of Learning

This past summer, I completed the requirements for my doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of New Orleans.  August graduates do not have a commencement ceremony, so I decided to accept the university’s invitation for August graduates to take part in the December ceremony.  The ceremony was held this past Friday.

Reflection has become such an integral part of my professional and personal life, that I have had a difficult time limiting my reflections on the events of this past Friday and what they mean to me.

  • Best advice from a non-faculty member“One day, you will be 40 years old.  Do you want to be 40 with a Ph.D. or without?  Either way, it’s up to you and I will support you no matter what you decide.”  My wife in a conversation about whether or not I should enter the program after I found out I was accepted (2003).
  • Best advice from a faculty member not on my doctoral committee: “You’re not writing your Magnum Opus.  You’re simply adding one more pebble to the already understood body of knowledge.”
  • Best advice from a faculty member on my doctoral committee: “Make sure you get your business cards updated.  Congratulations, Dr. Roddy!”
  • From start to finish, it took me about 6 years to complete my doctoral studies.  This includes obtaining a Master’s in Educational Administration, Hurricane Katrina, and two major moves for my family along the way.
  • Be selective about whom you ask to proof read your dissertation or thesis.
  • I found it ironic that at a ceremony to recognize individual achievements, I was wearing a mortarboard academic cap inside which, “One size fits all” was written.
  • The pre-ceremony reception for doctoral candidates and their major professors held in a VIP room at the arena (where the ceremony was held) was a very nice touch.
  • Even though my “formal learning” as a student in a school setting is likely over, I feel that I am now in my best position to be a learner.
  • I now ask different questions.
  • I am now more critical of what I read about “studies.”
  • When surveying faculty, students, parents, etc. comes up in leadership team meetings, I find myself questioning the validity and reliability of the proposed instruments.
  • Active research and pilot testing ideas in school are now topics I talk about often with teachers and administrators.
  • Defending my work via Skype was cool (and much less stressful).
  • I used to write for the benefit of others (teachers, students, etc.).  Now, I write for me as well.
  • I miss the longer sleeves on the Master’s academic gown.  Where do I hide my book, cell phone, and ceremony program now?
  • Any feeling that I am obligated to teach others and to pass along to another generation what I have learned has been infinitely magnified.  The journey I have made has led me to a philosophical belief that my responsibilities as a teacher go much deeper than the professional.  My obligation to teach is also ethical and moral.
  • An education is priceless.  The value of good teachers is immeasurable.

I welcome any readers to share their own reflections of a life of learning here.

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