Masters of Arts Degrees

I have two unfinished Masters Degrees.  The first, in International Relations (IR) with a specialization in US Foreign Policy, is incomplete because of not writing my Thesis after completing my coursework back in 2009. The second, an MA in Teaching, is incomplete due to simply running out of money.  I have a lot of education, but no paperwork to make it worth a crap.

The IR degree was a bad idea from the start.  I got my BA in History back in 2005, and the whole time I was working on that BA, I was waffling between getting a straight BA, with the intention of getting a PhD, or to go the pre-teaching credential route, so that I could teach high school History.  Eventually, my ego won out, and I planned to get a PhD so that I could become one of the great academics in American History.

What a dumbass!

Where it all went wrong was when I decided to switch over to the Political Science department so that I could focus my studies in US Foreign Policy.  I wanted to remain a Historian in name, but I wanted the Poly Sci credentials to give me a better understanding of how US Foreign Policy works.

What I did not know at the time was that Politcal Science is a fucking science!  History focuses on the narrative, and science deals with hard data.  It was like starting a new semester in classes all spoken in Russian—I had no idea what the hell anyone was talking about.

So, my head spun around constantly for the first two semesters until I finally got the hang of it all.  I had no Poly Sci background, and so when I had to do quantitative studies, I did not know what that meant.  They were using Algebraic expressions to explain their theories.  Fucking. Algebra.

I kept telling them that I knew how to use my words, but they insisted that I learned this useless way of explaining things.

I really did get the hang of things, even if I violently resisted using quantitative reasoning.  I insisted that my Thesis would be 100% qualitative, no matter how hard they pushed me otherwise.  Dammit!  I was a Historian.  I had scruples.  I also wanted my readers to know what the hell I was saying.

I do believe that is the entire purpose of quantitative data in Poly Sci; to confuse people into not wanting to question your logic.

In addition, the Government/Poly Sci department at my University was shifting its focus away from academic work toward practical field work—the business side of IR–so my entire body of work was getting more and more useless.

I did try to whore myself out to other Universities, but here is the rub; Universities in Northern California, at least in my neighborhood, do not care about political history anymore.  In the UC system, at least back in 2006, History departments were focusing more on Social, Public, and Cultural Histories.  I talked to a PhD candidate at UC Davis who was writing about the various grasses across the United States and how they influenced the trails of the settlers across the prairies.

Who the fuck cares?

Clearly, graduate level History programs in my back yard were not meant for my studies.  I am bound to the Sacramento area in California because of joint custody of my son.  It is not as if I could just take off to Cornell or Yale, where their History programs would have suited me better.

But that is not why my MA is incomplete.

I finished the coursework for the IR program and prepared to write my Thesis.  I was interested in International Relations theory—specifically, Constructivism—and I wanted to contribute to the nascent body of literature in Constructivist Theory in IR.  In keeping with my historical focus in IR, my Thesis topic was to be something about a Constructivist Theory of Justice, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  “What does Justice look like when both sides of a conflict are sure they are just?”  Sounds good, right?

Well, my Thesis Chairperson did not like it very much, and he continually blocked every prospectus submission.  He kept saying things like, “You have no stated Thesis”, or “Your Theory makes no sense”, or “Your prospectus is not formatted correctly.”

Excuse me?  I got A’s in all of your classes throughout the program, and suddenly I cannot write a simple prospectus?  I got A’s in your theory classes, and suddenly I have no grasp on Constructivism?

Personally, I think that my topic was too hot for him to want to touch.  Nothing starts a war (literally and figuratively) like discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I eventually begged him to give me anything that I could work with.  Just give me a friggin’ topic, and I’ll write the damned Thesis he wants.  But, we just couldn’t work anything out together.

I was disappointed, but I eventually came to realize that what I really wanted to do was teach high school History.  I would have liked a PhD, but I never really wanted to be an academic.  I should have gotten the teaching credential.

And that is what I did. I essentially told my Chairperson that he could have yet another non-graduate from his department to add to his stats chart.  I needed to move on!

Therefore, I went and got my Single Subject Teaching Credential…at a different school.

Part of this credential included a MA in Teaching, but I had spent so much money and student loans wrangling with the other school, that I ran out of funding before I could finish my MA.  I got the credential last September, but the MA will have to wait…for a miracle.

Getting my credential in September meant that I missed out on the hiring year, and so I work only as a sub right now.  Hopefully next year things will be different.  I certainly have been making connection whilst subbing, but the hiring process does not look encouraging right now.

And that is why I share a one-bedroom apartment with my son and sleep on the couch.

Stay in school kids.

And stay focused!



Filed under Deep Thoughts, man...

4 responses to “Masters of Arts Degrees

  1. So many stories like yours (and mine) about these struggles. I loved being a student and feel that if I had proper guidance early on I would not have taken so long to get my undergrad. And then, by now at 46, I would enjoy my work. Instead like you I ran out of money and work to make a living instead of being able to make the contribution to the world I know I was capable of…I try in other ways and I am proud. Nor do I give up but you are right about staying focused. I hope to help young people in my circles do that or be armed with information. Great post and do not give up..otherwise they win!

  2. I’m sure it’s all gonna work out man. Atleast you’re honest with yourself, many people go through life with various delusions – afraid to face their problems…reading this makes me think, you’re gonna work it out. Great read by the way!

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