I am a big fan of the 70’s / 80’s band Kansas. Perhaps that comes from being born and raised on Kansas soil and rock and roll, or perhaps because the band basically broke apart when its main muse found Christ, or perhaps because of their love for classical music wrapped around a back beat, or because they just plain wrote great tunes and great lyrics. That all being behind us now, I wish to focus on one of their later songs (without getting caught up in the controversy behind its actual source and author). When Steve Walsh walked away, unable to get his awesome voice and heart around Kerry Livgren’s overtly Christian lyrics, the band put out a call for a new lead singer. That is normally the death toll for an established band. But before running out of gas, the band did get a hit off the single, “Play the Game Tonight,” in which the singer enjoins the unknown young rock star to once again climb up on stage and give the crowd what they want…
Play, play the game tonight
Can you tell me if it’s wrong or right
Is it worth the time, is it worth the price
Do you see yourself in the white spotlight
Then play the game tonight
And now we can get to my point. My question for today is what happens when a teacher who is growing and flourishing in a Christian classical educational setting wants to further their formal education? At times in my own thinking on this situation I have envisioned something akin to the big spinner we had when we played Twister. Here are the ifs as I see them:
If I choose to go back and study education, I am in for it. The modern notions of education have complete sway in schools of education and may as well throw in the towel if I am striving for anything more than a piece of paper.
If I go after a content oriented degree, I may very well gain helpful information, and in some cases (especially in grad school) experience some great teachers and learning moments, but am I not then specializing and “ruining” my hope of being a generalist? And if I choose this direction, should I “major” in that which I am already interested in or proficient in, furthering those strong suits, or should I try to tackle some weakness in my overall academic abilities? Either way I feel I may be hurting some aspect of my teaching toolkit.
A generalist type of study may be in order, such as Humanities, or perhaps Latin, or Ancient Studies, or some such thing. Now – and I know I will step on some toes, but just be honest with yourself if you won’t be with me – we have the problem of the kind of folk who typically take these courses of study. I hate to say it, but I see it far too often bourne out to deny it, these courses tend to gather those who are either less than sure of what to do with their life, wish to be professional students, or are just plain out of the normal. Do I want to spend hours in a classroom with them discussing and learning? Maybe, but I have to think hard about it.
Then there is the whole issue of motivation. The best motivation for this pursuit would simply be to better myself that I might better teach others. The above addresses all that, but let’s get back to Kansas. Is it not often a real motivation of ours that we pursue a formal degree (as opposed to informal study under mentors, with other faculty, auditing, listening to audio courses, etc.) for what it says to others? Do we not at least in part wish to have the letters behind the name for the authority it lends our teaching before others. I mean, if we are going to be somewhat radical in our views, we should at least be able to look educated by having that Masters or PhD. And that brings me to the song I started with.
If your goal is self-improvement, I don’t know if one specific “degree” is going to do near as much for you as taking regularly courses that fit who you are, even if no Masters is forthcoming. However, if you are seeking to add credibility, I would play the game. Go after something that gives you the street cred, does not put you in the poor house, and avoids the pitfalls of being too flimsy or so unrelated to teaching that it misses your point.
What is your goal, dormmie?