Recovering Purpose

First thing’s first. I’m nearing the end of my thesis and hunting for employment, so if you know of any companies who need a writer with excellent critical thinking and counterfactual skills and can throw me a lead, I’d be very grateful. I’m not going to pander too much here about getting a job, but I’d be a fool if I didn’t at least mention it. My thoughts this week aren’t about the work I could be doing though, but about the work I am doing. 

I’ve been invited to become an associate of the Research Group for Manuscript Evidence, because of some consulting I’ve been doing with regard to their social media and marketing. It’s an academic society and registered not for profit research group that focuses on the importance of manuscripts to our understanding of the past. It’s a volunteer position, but it’s an incredible opportunity to work with experts from around the world and to help students and faculty by creating resources which are easy to use and readily available, like our Bembino font, which supports a great number of languages and makes integrating them onto the same page, a common problem for manuscript scholars, incredibly simple.

More importantly, it’s gotten me thinking about our responsibility as academics. The relevance of the humanities is often questioned, the study of language, literature, thought and history regarded as needless specialization in a world that thinks the best and brightest belong in computer science, engineering, or medical school. I can’t speak to where the best and brightest belong, but I can say that an appreciation and understanding of the humanities is an integral part of being the best. I can say that those of us who make a commitment to the academy, whether to study mathematics or philosophy, have a responsibility not just to educate students but to create finer people, and that it’s not our fields that will do that, but our stories. Every generation of students, especially those in the humanities, are faced with tough decisions. They’re all asked the same question. “What happens after you finish?”

It’s not an easy one for anyone to answer in this economy, when loans and bills begin to erode the dreams of financial security. And as academics, as people who have crossed that bridge, we have a responsibility not to burn it behind us. Creating finer people means teaching them the answers to that question and teaching them that there are myriad ways of expressing their passion, and that they should pursue them. We have a responsibility to teach them that, graduate school or not, crossing the stage isn’t about leaving your lessons behind but about taking them with you and blazing a trail that’s lit by the fire in your belly that made you push through in the first place. Crossing the stage isn’t when your work ends, it’s when it begins.

I don’t think everyone is like this, and these are some preliminary thoughts, but I think there are more people like this than we realize, and that they’re being lost in the shuffle. The things they learn in class are important, but what they learn from us outside, in our capacity as people instead of teachers, is just as significant.

The irony of writing about this while announcing my job search isn’t lost on me, nor is the irony of me realizing this when I come to the end of my studies, but let me tell you how this is going to work. I’m going to finish, and maybe find a job or two. I’ll settle down, and won’t stop writing or working with societies to help them in any way I can. If I don’t find a job, then I’ll make one. Maybe several. Honours BA in Philosophy, minor in Classics, Master’s in Philosophy? I’m just getting started.

Lots of posts this week. Concept Crucible levels some criticisms at the Golden Rule and introduces four steps to applying formal logic in your own life. TPK takes a look at the difference between asking and telling and outlines the culture of the immortal Killoren, while Labyrinth showcases some classics themed music and takes a look at some amazing archaeological finds that have been in the news lately.

As far as the thesis goes, I’m at page six of my last paper, with a bit of editing to do on my first two.

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