Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Doctor is NOT In........

It's official . . . .

Although I worked long and hard to earn my doctorate in adult education, I HATE the title. I thought I would "grow" into it, but it's been five and a half years, and I still hate being called "Dr." When we introduce ourselves to students in interviews for our program, I say my first and last names. I have a terrible time referring to myself as "Dr."

When I first got my doctorate, it felt funny to hear my name with "Dr." in front of it. Whenever someone said it, I sort of looked around like, "Who around here is a doctor with my same last name?" I thought I would get used to it, but I haven't.

It especially feels awkward for my colleagues to refer to me by the title. I feel a little bit like a fraud. I think the title imparts upon the wearer a level of intelligence that he or she may not actually have. I DO think I'm intelligent, but I think I had that before the doctorate. (I tell people all the time that educated doesn't necessarily mean smart.)

I rarely refer to my title myself. Unless it's in response to a stupid question. I was talking to a finance person one time, and when I told him I was a teacher, he asked, "Do your students call you 'Mrs. _______'?" Duh. So I responded, "Some of them. Except for the ones that call me 'Dr.'" Hubby was a little embarrassed, as if I were crowing about my title. I was only pointing out to the dear finance person what an ignoramus he was for asking that question. High school hasn't deteriorated so far that students are on a first-name basis with their teachers. Yet.

My feelings may be the result of my motivation for getting my doctorate in the first place. In education, the only way to get a raise is to teach for a long time and get additional degrees. I think it kind of sucks that the good teachers, the mediocre ones, and the really bad ones all get paid the same based on years of experience and level of education. And it's pretty hard to get fired from teaching, at least in our state, unless you do something of a sexual nature with a student. And I've known (about) several of THOSE who just moved on to other school districts, a practice commonly referred to as "passing the trash."

When I was working on my doctorate, I had classes with people from many different professions, not just teachers. There were health care professionals, human resource folks, planners, computer people, all different sorts. And many, many of them said getting their doctorates wouldn't give them an increase in pay, a promotion, or anything else beyond the piece of paper and the title.


Why would you put yourself through all that work, all that stress, all that research, all that writing, all those courses, all those long nights, all those committee meetings, not to mention THE FINAL ORAL DEFENSE, if you weren't going to get something material out of it? I'm not critical of those people; I'm in AWE of them. Any time the going got tough (like every day?) when I was working on my program, I would ask myself, "Why am I doing this to myself?" And the answer always came back, "Oh yeah, so I can get a big fat raise. Because I've reached the top of the salary ladder otherwise." And that was what kept me going.

Am I the weird one here?

Because I was most definitely in the minority among my classmates, I began to feel that I was a fraud due to the fact that I was in it for the money. I just quietly went about my business and stuck with the program until I had lasted long enough to write a dissertation and escape with my sanity and a diploma.

It's hard to retrain students (ask any teacher who has gotten married and changed her name) to call you by something different. My mother was visiting my classroom once when a student or two referred to me as "Mrs." She whispered to me, "Why don't they call you 'Dr.'?" She looked a little offended.

Personally, I don't care if no one ever calls me "Dr." again. Just as long as they keep putting it in the paycheck, I'm good.

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