Taking Classes

I spent some time scouring the course catalogs of university and colleges near and far yesterday in search of direction. It all began with the requirements for teaching licensure in Alberta, which reminded me that I have just three years left on my Iowa license, and I will need to take six accredited hours to maintain it.

Trouble is I am only really interested in taking writing courses and generally speaking, creative writing is the basket weaving of continuing education. No credit whatsoever is offered unless you happen to be in an MFA program. Getting accepted to an MFA program for writing is a lot like getting into a performing arts school like the one in the movie, Fame. You need a combination of academic cred and a bit more interest in literary fiction than the next guy or gal. It is also a good idea to be young and relatively unpublished in the mainstream and without real work experience beyond the part-time jobs you might have needed to pay for the stay your scholarships and student loans didn’t cover.

Here is my dilemma. In order to maintain teaching licenses, I need to take classes, but am I doing it for any other reason but an unreasonable fear that something might happen to Rob and I would need a real job again? Which isn’t all that unreasonable really. But the truth is that the only thing that would get me back into teaching at the secondary level would be desperate need of employment, so why bother? Why not let the license go? Apply for an Alberta one which would extend my ability to teach somewhere by another two or so years beyond the Iowa license expiring and then, depending, let that one go too?

And here is what irks me, the fact that writing courses that aren’t taught within the holy confines of an MFA program won’t earn me any college credit. With an M.A. I can theoretically teach at the college level, I am limited to education courses or entry level English. I couldn’t teach writing without an M.F.A, and all the writing courses I take and all the writing I do and any publishing I might get done, doesn’t mean anything.

There is no M.F.A program in the area, but even if there were, we aren’t going to be here much longer and won’t be anywhere for very long for a few years to come. Not time enough to start a program – provided one can be found – and finish it. Realistically, an M.F.A. program would have to wait until we came back from overseas and settled somewhere. Given the premium placed on youth and lack of real life experience, I will be that much older and that much more experienced. Writing is about the only career outside the performing arts where age and experience are negatives.

Rob points out to me that I would hardly be destitute if something happened to him, and he seriously doubts I would be inclined to frivolously spend insurance money – of which there is more than enough. And he’s right. Money doesn’t burn holes in my pockets. In fact, the more money I have, the less I tend to spend because I am my father’s daughter.

I think then this gets back to the idea of having a job. I had toyed with the idea of getting a part-time job, but it had to be a mother’s hours type thing, and they simply don’t exist. Sure, Dee could go to after school care. She’d be thrilled, but she learns enough questionable behavior from the kids she goes to school with at times for me to deliberately put in her a situation where she’d be exposed to more of that.

And there is the question of having all this education which is all but worthless outside of education. English is only slightly less disparaged as a major than education. Those who can’t – read books and work 9 months out of the year.

The writing classes offered are mostly offered at night and tend to be taught by people who can write but don’t know much about teaching. The same can be said of workshops for the most part. The teacher in me is sometimes too offended to learn though there is often not much being taught that I don’t already know. Which is the other problem.

Sigh with a small little grrrr.

8 responses to “Taking Classes

  1. I feel the pain. I moved to a small town for my hubby’s job. There are no jobs here for me. I don’t have a college degree, classes yes, degree no. I have looked into employment but can’t find anything worth the money. It would cost me more to drive 45 mins away for a job. It is at least 45 min to any colleges to even get a degree. I have a 4th grade step-son and he needs help with homework. How will my getting a job or driving 2hrs each day help him in any way. I am frustrated by not working but do the best I can. It makes me feel better to see my house cleaner and make dinner each night and know that the straight “A”s that SS earns are in part to my being home. I also mention quite frequently how will I get a job if something happens to hubby and he mentions insurance money also. I agree the more I have the less I spend.

  2. The teacher in me is sometimes too offended to learn though there is often not much being taught that I don’t already know. Which is the other problem.

    This insight makes me smile. To teach or to learn- that is the question…

  3. Have you checked out non-traditional programs, like Goddard College in Plainfield, VT? I earned an MA through their program, and they offer an MFA. Each semester starts with a residency week, where you write your learning plan for the semester. The professors and students are from all over the place, some out of the country, with a wealth of knowledge and experience, and life experience counts at Goddard. There are other low-residency programs around, but Goddard is the one I know the most about.

    I am keeping my teaching license because to get it again would be difficult. I have the next round of renewal covered with my MSW. Then I will need to look into taking classes somewhere, but that is years away. Maybe I will come into some money and be able to afford to go back to school full time….

    • In the end it is less of a hassle to keep it, but the question I struggle with is why am I keeping it and does keeping it prevent me from really taking a serious plunge into another career?

  4. Frustrating to know you’re more qualified to do something than the people doing it likely are but can’t get around the qualification technicalities, isn’t it? I’ve always hated that aspect of my industry too.

    • It’s a pain if you haven’t been to school recently or are years and years out of the classroom. I have a masters in education that is just three years old and haven’t been out of the classroom even that long. The license is good until 2012 and if I get the Alberta license that stretches me to 2015 at least with a teaching license somewhere. It is easier to trade one for another than to get relicensed.

      Rob’s company likes for spouses to be employed and they have American schools. It could be a non-issue if I were to do something like that. Maintaining coursework for renewal is so much easier when you are actively teaching than not.

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