Self-Education vs a Master’s Degree

Posted on 08.09.2011


I’ve been thinking a lot lately. I know I’ve mentioned it a few times, but it’s getting more and more obvious and I think I need to write it out.

I really love Abstract Expressionism. As an art form, as a movement, everything about it. I love the artists from this era and their work so much.

I had initially intended to go back to school to get my MFA in Art History, Theory and Criticism. As a degree and course of study, it fit every angle I’d like to approach job-wise, after school. It’s everything I’ve wanted to do with my life.

I realized a little while ago that to get an MFA in this subject might pigeon-hole me job-wise. I mean, I guess just about any MFA is going to do that, but my hole is two-fold.

Yes, I’d be sectioned off into teaching about one specific movement in art history, most likely, as I wouldn’t really want to venture too far past it in either direction. It’ll either do that, or leave me writing critical pieces for a journal or publisher. But also, even IF I get this MFA in Germany (and therefore IN GERMAN), I highly doubt that I’ll be teaching it in Germany, based on the credentials that Germany requires you to have before you can set foot in front of a class or lecture hall. So I’d also be pigeon-holing myself into teaching in the English-speaking nations, most likely just the US.

And that’s not a huge issue, essentially, except for the fact that I really don’t feel the need or have any desire to go back to living in the US. Sure, I could go back and teach for a semester or two, but the quality of life is so much better here that I don’t really see or feel a need to go back to struggling like I most certainly would be (thanks to my disease and the healthcare craziness that’s been going on for a while).

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of self-educating. Sure, that’s not something I really want to do when it comes to something like learning German, but it IS something I could do in the realm of art history.

I think it might be good for me, actually. Based on the fact that I can’t even pick up the Rothko biography without wanting to paint, I think it would be good on so many levels. I’d get to choose my own reading. I’d get to go at my own pace. No papers unless I felt the need to write them. And I could stop reading at any time to make notes about art I want to try out/create. I’d also get to build my library, read things in either German or English, and set my own hours. I wouldn’t have to seek out schools. I wouldn’t have to worry about passing a test to get in, writing samples, or how it would fit into my teaching life, or our budget.

I think I could do it. And I think I will. If I don’t plan on teaching the subject anymore, then I don’t need the degree. If I boil it down to what it would be at this point, all we’re looking at is a ‘hobby’.

I think it’ll be a goal for 2012, though, as I want to keep up with the ‘reading for fun’ this year, and I have a German class coming up, which is almost directly followed by getting my TEFL certification.

Maybe eventually I’ll feel like the MFA is a completely worthy investment. Right now I’m not so sure. So until that’s the case, I can still do a ton of reading and research on my own. I’m concerned I might have missed my chance to get an MFA, but to be perfectly honest, it’s not something that really bothers me. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to teach those classes. But I imagine that my boyfriend and anyone else will totally love walking through the museums with me (René already does, actually, for this reason:)

I don’t feel like I’m quitting. I feel like I’m just re-evaluating. And I’m ok with that.

Posted in: art, life