In defence of the Ph.D.
I learnt a lot during my Ph.D. studies. But more important than that, it allowed me to demonstrate to people (including myself) that I can take on a complex task, work hard on it over a long time and see it to completion. I think this is a very useful trait to possess, and wouldn’t trade those years in graduate school inculcating it for anything else.
It’s therefore not too surprising that the following article resonated with me so much. In a piece entitled, “Why Would We Want A Less Educated Nation?“, Claire B. Potter (Professor of History at The New School, New York) defends the Ph.D. against the anti-intellectualism that is pervasive in our culture today.
Her basic point in the article is that working toward a Ph.D. gives people a wide range of tools that should allow them to do enriching work anywhere. Just because there are few academic jobs out there doesn’t mean we should stop educating people.
And I agree completely with her.