On not being a Full time academic and weekend PhD student

Posted on November 22, 2009 by Shay

I think being able to do a PhD has a lot to do with being in the right frame of mind and being able to afford to do it (time and money). If you can satisfy both criteria then superb, you’re on track. Miss one of those and its basically a no go.

When I left my teaching role at the university it was at the point where I felt staying there was endangering my ability to perform fluidly as a lecturer and comprimising my ability to do a PhD to a standard that I wanted to and in the time frame that I wanted.

Because I didnt want to put the PhD ahead of teaching, and because I loved both of those things so much to risk degrading them (even in my head). I felt it was time to move on and find other avenues that will permit me to carry on operating at my optimal level of performance and outlook on life.

Obviously it wasn’t as simple as that but thats one way of looking at it, which I think is little sad but quite positive.

Consequently, regardless of my current ‘regular salary’-less financial standing, I think I’m in a better position altogether. I feel positive about applying myself creatively to the topic of glitches , Im genuinely not as stressed and I feel positive that my role as creative director / designer in a startup that I own is even more conducive to the spirit of being a PhD student who’s willing to take risks. It also allows me to evaluate how a former academic could fit in within a commercial environment and make a success of it firsthand.

Since I left I’ve been able to abandon any old notions of having to learn something because it has some teaching value, or learning things in a way that I usually do, which is to learn it to an extent that I can teach it. I always felt that limited me.

As creative director, in a small company, I’m exercising being a maker. Being ‘a maker’ is all about learning technologies and methods as you use them in practical applications. This is a mode of operation I find myself in daily which I think is conducive to a practice based PhD.

In my opinion ambitious practice based PhD and dedicated teaching schedules don’t mix, something has to give. Whether its your health, mental wellbeing, teaching quality or the scope and breadth of the PhD you think you’re capable of.