Doctoral Journey – the Inner Education

by | July 29, 2009

One of my interests beyond my work as an academic advisor is watercolor painting. I attend workshops, read what some Master watercolorists have to say about their work and I paint. I have a great deal of appreciation for the artists who can articulate not only insights on color theories and techniques but also delve into the meaning of what takes place when they create, the challenges, the inspiration, the disappointments, and the perseverance to make them succeed.

In the recent art journal, an author presents the idea of external work and inner education. It is about the tension that exists between the external task of mastering techniques and the internal education of using one’s mind that results in taking an intrinsically motivated stand toward painting.

Translated into an academic experience, it refers to the capacity to reconcile the task of writing papers, passing courses and persevering, with the ability to cultivate, appreciate and track the type of non-academic learning taking place concurrently. What does it look like and why it is important to pay attention to this?

It is like driving to work over the Golden Gate Bridge reading a paper and neglecting to see the view. The busy-ness of the graduate life of adult learners does not lend itself all that well to self-imposed reflection on the meaning of non-academic accomplishments of the doctoral journey. And there are many.

What is it that makes you successful? What have you learned about yourself while wearing the hats of scholar/practitioner? Can you name the skills that are required for you to succeed – from prioritizing to problem solving? Have you ever thought about the impact of what you role model as a doctoral learner to those around you? Is your status as a doctoral learner a secret or a new identity? What is it that you are getting out of the experience that will ( besides the credentials of the letters behind your name) help you navigate what comes next??

Returning to the notion of inner education and the intrinsic “something” that keeps the painters painting, doctoral learners may well take notice and affirm these resources within themselves.