Friday, October 5, 2012

Teaching vs. Research

If you have met me before, you'd know that I love teaching... with every fiber of my being. Co-workers in my department usually give me an odd look when I make such statements. Professors and advisors tell me that I need to have a healthy balance of both research and teaching. Well, I will discuss a brief comparison.
Warning: Humor may or may not be involved...


While teaching you may develop a "hero complex" in which you take command and lead the class into a victorious and glorious discussion. Where as in research, well you just stare at the hole in the wall in which you work, bouncing ideas off said walls, and then realize... if walls could speak, they'd tell you, "you are nuts."

While teaching, you interact with human beings... young, old, male, female and all those dichotomies in between. Working with so many different types of people is a humbling experience. You discover yourself through others. You learn how to deal with different types of people. You essentially realize that you are just one more piece in a wonderful puzzle. In research, you interact (depending on the field) with old books that might as well be called tombs, because they are so dusty that you may need an inhaler after opening them. Furthermore, you develop attachment to the aforementioned books, that may or may not be older than your grandmother, that you start to treat them like a human being... cajoling them into compliance, telling them to share their secrets, whispering sweet nothings into their I mean.... binding...

Am I starting to worry you?

While teaching, you discover a piece of information and share it with the classroom... reflect on what it means, and come out with a healthy a viable research project... yes, teaching gets you to work on your research... In research, you discover a piece of information, horde it to yourself, and treat it like it is your last meal... ensuring that not one atom slips out of your grasp out of a sense of fear and paranoia that someone may or may not steal your ideas....

While teaching, you live life above ground. In research, you live like a rat, scurrying back to its hole in the wall. I'm starting to think of that story we read in Lit class back in my undergrad days "Yellow Wallpaper". o.O

While teaching, you eat normal food... In research, you also eat normal food.... GOT YOU THERE!! ----> PLUG IN! --> Never let your food, sleep, and exercise habits suffer!!

Teaching --- the most challenging job on the planet, but the most fulfilling job on the planet... Research --- the other most challenging job on the planet, but the least fulfilling job on the planet, unless you get some sort of International Academic Award like a Nobel Prize.... Can you buy one off ebay?


Okay, I'll stop there. Six, that is enough. Have I mentioned that research is torture for people like me... You turn from alive, vivacious human being --> into a croaking, old machine that needs some oiling. o.O

Good luck Academics and research fellows...

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