Monday, October 31, 2011

Exit Plans, Future home comings, and quitting my masters (yes, you heard right)

Randomly found this post by another blogger about why he likes teaching in Taiwan better that working as a financial advisor. It was interesting, with thoughts about being a teacher as well as a few pieces of advice about investing in real estate as opposed to the other kinds of things he would have told us to invest in if he were still working in his previous profession.
You can read his post here:
Anyway, I liked his optimism. After reading it I commented on his post and figured my comment could be part of my own post since I haven't posted in awhile.
here's my reply, under that I'll give a bit of a low down on why I quit my masters degree, even though it was interesting, and I do believe I certainly had the ability to finish it. 
I’ve been teaching for the past 8 years in Korea, for the past three years at the University level. My wife and I are thinking of making the move to Canada sometime soon. I’m weighing what I’ll do back home, get the Bachelor of Education and teach high school in back home is one option.
I’m interested in the advice you gave about buying real estate as investment property as we were considering that. We were a bit worried about problems happening with a property living so far away, like the heater tanks or something. Anyway, figure between my Korean pension which I can cash in if I move home and what my wife has saved we’ll have roughly $60-70 grand, but going back to school will cost if I don’t work.
Wondering if it’s still better to try to get the mortgage credit line before going back to study and spending cash since I’d have a bigger downpayment then or waiting till I get certified which would be an extra year or two and start working. Might not even qualify for a mortgage if I’m not working even if I’ve got a downpayment ready. That’s why the thought crossed my mind of taking one more two year contract here and applying for a mortgage back in Canada while I’m still employed and renting it out, something like a duplex. If I did that I couldn’t get my 15 grand or so pension till I left, and the other 40 grand is tied up in our apartment and stuff here. To do the stay here but invest in Canada thing we’d have to get rid of our nice big apartment and get our 40 grand our of deposit and take a very small place supplied by the university and sell furniture / send some stuff back to Canada. Being kind of strange going back to living in a small one room studio type place after being used to a huge three bedroom apartment, but perhaps a livable temporary situation if it helps make a better future.
Of course not %100 sure which province I’d work in, so that’s another thing to consider. All in all it’s a hard decision, or at least a big one. Oh, and my wife might not come back immediately to Canada, might spend some quality time with her family before moving and start the process of applying for permanent residence for her. That apparently takes about 6 months to be processed. This might be kind of hard, but hell military people do that kind of thing for work, and it would be a one time thing. I could either live with my parents while I study if I do in in my hometown, or a small cheap one room in another town if I study somewhere else. This is a very recent decision. Found out two weeks ago was losing my job due to downsizing, and a change in regulations that made me not qualified since I hadn’t had two years uni level work before this contract (only had one). We were planning on more like 3-5 years more here, but this kind of made me decide perhaps it’s better to go home and try to build a new career before I’m too old rather than finding another job over here. I’ll be 40 next year : )
Then to make things weird, after pretty much deciding to go home, I’m told last week, that they reconsidered, or the restrictions were relaxed, and that my 3 years teaching public high school here would qualify me. Well, I’d already made the emotional jump to I’m going home.
Anyway, I’m getting quite rambly. Just wanted to say, I enjoyed your post, and gave me food for thought.
As promised, why I quit.
I just had doubts that I was going in the right direction for me. It just didn't feel right in my heart, and I figured better to bail now with some of the money intact, and more importantly with the time to take a different path, which is at this point leaning towards a bachelor of education and teaching high school, doing a different masters that is not distance and more in line with what I really want to research if I do the research thing. In my FI Assignment I was still trying to bring the secular humanism / atheism as a social movement learning area into play and was told to keep it down to a minimum because it was taking me 'off track'. Unfortunately, off track, is where I want to be if I spend the time, energy and money to to a masters degree. Perhaps a better way to put it is that I feel that for who I am at the most basic level, the direction I was taking, whittling that stuff down to a minimum was off track. So I tossed in the towel without a fight. Not that I was really being fought against, so much as being told that what I was really interested in didn't belong in Adult Education. So I decided that maybe I was trying to put the proverbial square peg in the round hole, and just decided to look for different holes.
Now this isn't meant as an attack on the program or my advisor. Everything my advisor said was reasonable. Well maybe I could have fought an intellectual battle on the grounds that it 'ought' to be part of Adult education, or that all areas in which I saw parallels to some degree or other (critical theory, queer theory, feminist approaches, or approaches having to do with racial inequalities , at one point were not part of Adult education. Someone had to be the first to declare that these were real issues.  But as I said, I decided not to. I do look back on 99% of my brief time in the program with great fondness. I met some great, intelligent, caring people, both fellow students and professors in the Adult Education department. I may have had one upsetting encounter with one professor, but all in all it wasn't that big of a deal, though at the time it was painful to go though. And it was not with my advisor. I do regret the fact that I won't get the chance to work with my advisor over the next few years as I know I would have learned much from her. I do hope that my paths cross someday with all the people I met. It was an intense, reflective period, and I do not regret it. I don't even so much care that I blew over two grand, plus air tickets for me and my wife. I had a great trip home with her, we spent time traveling with my parents, and I think the experience is worth what I paid for it. I do still believe there is something special about the program. 
I do still intend on reading and informally studying all the books I did buy, and articles I did accumulate, since learning is never a waste. I can enjoy it for its own sake, without a degree at the end. I also tend to keep up this blog. Maybe it will take on some new directions and be more broad in range that strictly adult education topics. I think I'll still write and reflect about them as I read, though through a different lens. Adult education will be less the lens I look through, and rather one of the things I look though with my own evolving lens. It has to be noted though that it will also to some degree tint my lens perhaps. I'm not going to through my assignment in the garbage. I still haven't taken down my Study project off the wall, though I might. I'm still reflecting on certain aspects of it. Still processing the decision to bail on it and what it means to my future.
The funny thing is, doing a B.Ed and teaching high school is not really someplace I'd get on a soap box. I don't believe in indoctrinating kids. Even if I believe in what I'm selling. So, am I being a hypocrite or being irrational if I do this. I don't necessarily think so. It's quite a bit cheaper, and something I have quite a bit of related experience with. It's a means to an end perhaps. A career. However, it's a career I do think I could enjoy. I do want to know what it feels like to teach in a different setting, within my own culture and country. I want that because I think it can help me put certain things in perspective by comparison. Also I'm a little interested in being able to teach a subject for its own sake, either English literature, or science, rather that that being the back drop and material used to teach the language itself.
I still have some interest in doing a masters, perhaps in philosophy, philosophy of science, comparative (and critical) religious studies, and then going on to do a PHD. I might still do it. Who knows. But the thing is. I'm almost 40. That takes a lot of time. I want to be able to go back home and live in Canada again. When my wife comes with me and gets her permanent residency I want to know I can at least provide for us financially in the beginning while she adjusts to living in a new country. I know that's a big deal since I've been doing it for eight years. And I can be working as a high school teacher a lot faster with a one year (possible one and a half to two depending on where I go), whereas doing the PH.D route. I might still be able to chip away at that stuff part time while I teach high school since high school teachers have summers off. Or I might just fill that particular part of my needs in a different way. I'm definitely going to join some secular humanist groups and get involved. I may do some freelance journalistic writing on the subjects I'm curious and passionate about in that area. I've already done some writing. I certainly won't ignore who I am, but that's only a part of who I am. I'm also a musician, poet, philosopher, husband, cat lover (dogs ok too), science buff, traveller, and basic normal average guy. 
There other post Korea career I considered strongly was journalism, as I could really put my ideas out there. The thing is, I'm not sure how stable a career that is, unless I'm willing to be super ambitious, move around a lot for jobs and ladder climbing and what not. Would that be fair to my wife. Besides I can still write and publish stuff occasionally when I feel I have something I need to say without making it my career. Like the masters/ph.d route I haven't totally ruled this out. In fact it will likely be a small very occasional thing I do. Like music and recording, acting and other creative things, I don't need to necessarily aim at them being my 'career' in order to create and express myself in them. I'm ok with that these days. Not that there's not a small (read slightly big) part of me that wishes I was 20, and in acting school with 20 years ahead of me to try to make a real go at it before growing up and getting a 'real' job. I do think I'll get back into acting when I get back in Canada, though as a hobby.
Other careers I very briefly thought about and pretty much canned after a few days of research into them are 
1. Lawyer - figuring I could make lots of money to buy recording equipment for my basement and a house for that basement to be attached to. Tossed it since I figured I'd lose my metaphorical soul, and drown in the pressure of law school, the amount of financial commitment it would be. Beside I had my Matlock moment already when I took my slum landlord to court over him trying to steal our damage deposits. It was fun pretending to be the guy from Law and Order or Matlock. Matlock wins I guess. I think the lawyer seed was planted early in my life because of the movie "Inherit the Wind" which was based on the Scopes trial. That lawyer possibly beats Matlock since he was arguing my dream case. But then thankfully I reminded myself that these were all TV lawyers and not real life. Still legal issues involving separation of church and state and related constitutional law are still very intriguing to me.
2. Commercial Diver - I've got my advanced open water recreational license, and there is a commercial diving school in my home province. However, researching it I pretty much shit canned it. It's dangerous. I do love diving but it's not that big of a passion of mine. I'd likely end up hating it. I also read a lot on message boards suggesting that it's a small fraction of commercial divers who make 100 grand a year, it's very transitory and with living for weeks or months on oil rigs I'd go insane and my marriage would probably not survive. Also, an experienced diver brought up that dive schools exaggerate the amount of jobs, the amount of pay most divers make because they make their money by getting students through the in door. One guys analogy was that it's like claiming that if you take our soccer coaching you will be guaranteed Beckham's salary. Of course there's a lot of negativity on the internet, and I'm sure some people are going to be doing the right thing. After all, some people are doing it and enjoy it, just like many other careers. I realized that it's just not for me at this stage in my life. Maybe if I was 20 and had time to work my way up.
Anyway, my super power of non sequitur rays have certainly been worked out tonight. The ramble is come to an end. I do hope that we all (adult education people) meet again and that you all are super successful in your paths. I know I'll find mine and all the paths are branches, and all contain an adventure. I hope you still get some nice reflection out of the blog, even though I jumped ship. I'm free diving folks!


  1. so happy for you... you should never regret following your intuition even if it has cost you some cash. it seems like you are figuring somethings out my friend...making plans and living a better life. this is a remarkable thing... so try to be gentle with yourself ok? no need to pass judgement on it... it is what it is.... a choice you have made and lessons you are learning. your such a smart passionate guy you will find a place to channel all of that. maybe one day you could be frederick's teacher?!?!? cant think of a better guy for the job. best to you!!! thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Thanks for dropping your two cents Rachel, and I agree, it is what it is. I also agree we shouldn't judge decisions like this too harshly. We make them and adjust our lives appropriately. Who knows, maybe someday I would be Frederic's teacher. If if happens it would be nice to think that when he grows up he could look back on me as that quirky but thoughtful teacher that had a positive impact on his life philosophy. Of course I'm sure each student connects with different teachers for different reasons and not so much with others. It's not necessarily a reflection on the quality or lack thereof of the teacher. I can look back on my school days and think of the teachers who had an impact on me. In elementary school I remember Mrs Barnes being quite kind and I remember Mrs. Worth seemed awful grumpy. Funny thing was later in life I heard my mom or someone tell me I was like her teacher's pet. Weird that my memory isn't that way. Maybe I overlooked something. In Junior high school it was Mr. Hickey's cool approach. He played in a rock band and came to school wearing a leather jacket. For some reason I thought that was cool back then because he seemed like just a normal guy. In hindsight they were likely all normal guys and gals, just with different personalities and teaching styles. I liked that he showed us movies sometimes that had lessons and made us think rather than only text book stuff. I remember he showed us Roots, Walking Tall (the original, I'm old, not the one with The Rock) and I think even a Ray Bradbury movie, though that might have been a different teacher. I also remember the art teacher Mr. Johnson having a candid talk with me when I was acting out in a very respectful way that did have an impact on me. In high school it was Mr. Hubie "Billie Bishop" Morrison. He had a great way of approaching class management that involved quite a lot of humour and irony. I enjoyed his history classes and his law classes. I remember Mrs. Dover who a lot of students didn't really like but who I respected as being a bit strict but also fair and respectful of us. And then there was J.B. Morrison, my high school English teacher. What a joker. Everybody liked him. There were others too. I could also list a bunch of Uni profs that I really admired as well, but you get the picture.