I can’t work in the “real world.”
I’m going back to my world of books and ideas and theories and research.
I’m getting the heck out of dodge.
This summer, I’m working for a large urban public school district. My job is to analyze data and the law to create guidelines for teachers. It’s nothing like I thought it would be.
For some reason, I believed that what we did in the academy, in our ivory tower, somehow made its way back down, trickle-down academia you could call it.
It’s nothing like that.
People make decisions based on feelings, not data.
They act based on what they believe, not what has been proven.
And when you show them differently, they don’t believe you. The pressure to conform to the institutional beliefs over what you know to be true is enormous. I can’t – I won’t – work like that, in an environment like that.
I admit, I’ve drank the grad school kool-aid totally and completely. Data means everything to me. Well designed and analyzed studies means everything to me. Not putting precious dollars into ideology instead of tested interventions means everything to me. “How do you know that?” and “Where is the evidence?” are my mantras.
“Never” is a really strong word. I will never be an employee in a cog of a machine that is more about keeping the status quo in service of ideology – any ideology – rather than in what works. I will accept assignments when the goal is uncovering some pattern with the aim of making real change or understanding a real problem, and I have total autonomy. I don’t think I ever realized how important academic freedom really meant to me until I worked in a place where employees don’t have a lot of freedom to act as they know is right.