Saturday August 18, 2018

Macagba: A purpose driven degree

Beyond the Classroom

WHAT’S your degree for? I ask this question since, as teachers, we are really life-long learners. Thus, the challenge of learning should be endless. There’s something that we can learn everyday.

My wife and I are in the process of finishing our doctorate degrees. On our experience throughout the years, we had classmates who had been taking their graduate degrees without having some purpose other than getting the extended initials connected to their name and a possible promotion from their schools or other employers. This got me thinking, what is truly the purpose of accomplishing or gaining a degree?

I have asked good classmates of mine who are in their late 50s and early 60s to share their purpose of taking their graduate degrees considering that they don’t even need any kind of promotion. One mentioned the need to have their brains continuously working. While the other wishes to prove to her colleagues that getting a degree in a reputable university and earning it the hard way is a form of her witnessing of her oath in providing quality education for herself and her students.

This amazes me since I strongly believe that the quality of a graduate student depends totally on the depth of one’s purpose. We produce masters and doctors who have fairly contributed to the community other than their researches displayed in their cubicles and offices. We should therefore eliminate the notion of a degree as an end state but rather a precursor for higher contribution to the society.

This is a challenge because there are some others who would use this kind of reasoning as an excuse, “I won’t take my graduate degree just yet, since I rather focus on my community works and serve.” The truth is, complacency snatches you from providing more quality service that you ought to give others. A degree therefore should propel you to discover and be more motivated to empower communities in the peripheries.

I, too, struggle from finishing my degree. Some say that it is just about time management or prioritization. But for me, finishing a degree is a personal pilgrimage, a test of the strength of my convictions, and a discovery of how I can best serve the community I am tasked to shepherd. While there are time lines that need to be fulfilled, I am pacing myself since anything worthwhile takes some time. Likewise, I take some time to achieve a quality degree rather than finishing quickly and remaining stagnant afterwards.

I remember a discussion that one of my professors in University of Asia and the Pacific shared about our educational system being diploma mills. The persistence of receiving diplomas just for the sake of receiving a piece of paper is the very reason why our country is not able to maximize its worth to transform communities. While we Filipinos view education to pursue the promise of progress, its systemic problems occur because of our traditional mindset and view on what truly our degree is all about.