Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The stops along the way: A researcher’s revelation

Twenty one credits into my Maters of Art Education program I am deep in the throngs of academia and still teaching 8 sections in 6 periods of high school art.  Two are new; one with a curriculum plan/umbrella that I thought was good but am now realizing what I left out of the plan, and one that has a perceived structure but not a real strong path. (Advanced Art & Honors and 3D) The two Introduction to Photography classes are going smooth, but the Photo II and Honors Photo II are a challenge to challenge them who then challenge me.  My Independent Art students really aren’t independent.   Beyond my academics (student/teacher/researcher) there is family.  JC just turned 11 and is in 5th grade and Savana is 9 and in the 4th grade.  There’s karate, homework, dinner, 2 dogs 14 chickens, the laundry, the house, the husband, lest not forget him, that all need a piece of my attention too.  The computer crashes, the external hard drive gets corrupted, and my father will arrive in the morning.  Oh’ yeh, and tomorrow’s Thanksgiving.
Tonight, I am frustrated, aggravated, overwhelmed, have lost confidence, and am just plain underwater.  (long story)  Sometimes I think that saying “you just gotta keep your eye on the prize” is a load of crap.  Yes, I said crap.  Keeping your eye on the prize, or let’s say “destination”, can make it impossible to enjoy the ride to getting there.  I want to enjoy the ride, see the sites, and experience the growth along the way. 
I’ve realized that my “prize” is this end point (destination), on the map called curriculum guide.  But they’re some really great places I get to pass through along the way.  I get to study the best art textbooks, talk to a lot of great art teachers about their ideas on those books, read some awesome journal articles, write about what I’m doing in my classes each day and how it’s different from what I thought or wanted or planned for it to be, and then take all that new knowledge and create a real solid course design that other teachers could use too.  I just never thought I would have to do it all at the same time.
When you’re on the highway and drive 100mph in a 65mph zone you get in trouble with the law.  When you do that your thesis year of grad school it’s called normal.   I know where my end point is and I know where my starting point was, the only problem is that I seem to only have time to “pass through” the stops along the way instead of getting to soak them all in, process them, learn from them, and gain strength from them before I have to be at that end point.  When all those stops have to be made at the same time, none of them gets to be absorbed.  Which ultimately, as anyone who has gone on a road trip and was in a hurry to get to the destination, happens is that you get to the destination without realizing and respecting where you have been.
I know I’m not alone in this place and space.  There are plenty of other folks out there with me.  My story isn’t unique.  It’s just the story of how I’m traveling now.


  1. My dear brilliant friend you are brave beyond measure, talented beyond description in many ways, and I (and we) are appreciative of this story. What is a part of this journey for many is acknowledged or admitted by few. Why do people put on a mask of confidence? Pretend it was a snap....? I don't know as there is strength in honesty and power in sharing. Thank you as you have more strength today and more power today.

  2. Your post is so powerful, AND so familiar and true. As a fellow UF grad student, with a very similar story, I find your writing describes the thrill and the frustrations of this journey quite perfectly. I appreciate hearing that I am not the only one who regrets the frantic pace, and wishes I could truly explore the topics more deeply in order to receive the full benefit of this education.