Saturday rant - Graduate education and Development work
Well, as you may or may not be aware of, I have moved once more. Now, this wasn't about my pseudo-nomadic spirit. Last year, I was ready to get in to a Graduate programme because I felt like I needed a little more reflection over practice - not that my little writing outbursts didn't help. However, that was what I needed. So, long story short, I got accepted in a couple Universities and I decided for a particular one in the UK because they had a very strong Research and Development background. And although I like my programme and my classmates, it has been a somewhat odd experience.
Okay, I'll take a step back and explain a little more for this.There is always arguments between this riff between Academia and practice. There have been conventions, articles and entires books published on the subject. This is not the case. My point here is more on the system that is in place and how is been used. For once, I strongly feel that people should have at least a year of work (volunteer, internship, whatever) before coming to Grad school if they desire to be practitioners and not academics. And why is that? Because there are concepts that look very pretty on paper but when applied in practice can cause serious consequences to actual human lives. Or simply putting to have an understanding on how different time passes by. There is a certain amount o pressure on taking quick decisions that would actually influence peoples lives - and not always in a positive way. Because having worked in some area you might be more confident on what you like and what you don't, so specialising becomes easier. I'm not saying Field is better than Academia or vice-versa. They are very different worlds with very different mindsets.
And in the end, this is not a criticism of my classmates, who are lovely people or the University itself. It's more a criticism to the current job market. People must have Graduate degrees. Not because they want to, but because they have to in order to get the job they want. Consequently you create this dangerous circle where people are not coming to Graduate School to be educated, but to move to the next round. Not contemplating if that field is actually what they want or if they are ready - psychologically and emotionally - to do what development work in conflict-affect countries entails. And in some weird way Universities - especially European Universities - went along in this crazy cycle maybe for profit or because they had no other choice. However, in the end it seems more like a mass production of Academics with crushed dreams than actually preparing people for what they want to do in live.