Bad academic first dates


Hurrah! Our cohort (the Chickadees as we have self-identified) has made it to the one year mark. Most of us have 4 courses under our belts (the over achievers have snuck in an extra elective) and we’re cooling our heels until our summer session starts in July.  I have used my time wisely binging Kimmy Schmidt and hand crafting an LGB contribution to the “you should be writing” meme. You’re welcome Ruby Rose fans!

We have learned many things in our one year quest for wisdom, that you can answer any question with a thoughtful expression and “it depends….” , that binaries are for losers, that you can’t just “skim” Judith Butler and that the search for a supervisor is fraught with angst and awkward academic first dates.

Unlike PhD programs – the EdD is a professional doctorate. There’s been a lot of discussion about which is better and I am not going to revisit that here*, but the EdD prides itself on being, above all things, useful. We have all sworn a solemn pledge on a picture of Hannah Arendt to uphold social justice and make the world a better place. Another difference from a PhD is that we have to hunt down and capture our own committee, including our research supervisor. This has led to some interesting encounters as increasingly desperate students try to hook up with faculty members they might know only from online bios, or word of mouth. We’re told to relax, that we may change our research approach a few times between now and the dreaded comprehensive exam next spring, and what currently looks like Professor Right could turn out to be Professor Wrong (or Professor No Clue About Your Subject Area or Method).  This is wise advice, but it doesn’t stop us from getting out there and testing the waters.

We’ve all had a few awkward academic first dates.  Our intended may have asked us overly detailed and complicated questions on our proposal (to which we answer…”erm, dunno….something about health care….and, maybe, gay people?”) Some of us knew from the handshake that this wasn’t going to be “the one” – and some have felt that exciting tug of attraction – could our critical approaches match? Will this person kick my butt when I have disappeared into a week-long Netflix sinkhole or am I going to be doing all the running in this relationship? Will they be firm but fair? I can imagine the UBC education faculty in the staff room (which in my head looks like a 1970s UK high school teachers’ lounge filled with smoke and tweedy jackets) doling out the students like playing cards (“I’ll trade you the weird British one with the oddball who is obsessed with Foucault”). A couple of us have taken it to the next level and supervisor-proposed already. It feels like a big step, like we should bring flowers and possibly a ring.  However the profs are still steadfastly playing the field, and are unwilling to commit. Perhaps I should invent academic Tinder to hurry things along? In the meantime the Chickadees are polyamorous (polyglamorous? pollyannish?) but willing to commit for that certain, special someone when the time is right. Stay tuned – you’ll hear it first right here!

Ruby Rose

*Because it’s obviously an EdD!