Pieces of Paper

I found out today that I have been rejected from joining a certain University faculty because I don’t have a PhD. I was not the one who submitted my resume to this University (it was done by a medical colleague) and I didn’t know that it was even being submitted, but it was and they decided I wasn’t good enough without the piece of paper.

What is a doctorate supposed to represent? Expertise in a specific field. Skills, knowledge, study, research, writing, documentation, evaluation, peer recognition, tested and validated results. Does this University not understand that 36 years of life experience is equal to at least three doctorates? Do they not care about whether or not the person has useful and practical skills in all levels? Is it not important that their teachers not work from theories but from facts, not teach from hopes and dreams but from proof, not lead from intellectual data alone but from personal experience? Does it not matter that all of the other criteria were met?

The answer, of course, is NO. A big fat resounding NO.

Fortunately, since I wasn’t seeking this position in the first place, not being accepted did not have a big impact upon me. Finding out was sort of a disappointment, but only for about 5 minutes. Unfortunately, I know others who have sought university positions who were highly qualified, DID have a doctorate, and life experience, research, writing and human interaction skills, who WERE rejected, and for them, such rejection was disastrous. The people who did get the positions may have been far less qualified, but they knew someone, or they had some other “connections” and got the job.

This is as old as humanity and it isn’t going to change.

The job of teaching anyone anything is to inspire the student to want to learn, to discover something about him or her self that is new and exciting, to guide them through frightening or difficult waters with quiet confidence, and to leave them feeling that the entire learning experience was wondrous and memorable. Having a PhD. has nothing to do with any of these things.

This is particularly true of those who work with the voice, that most mysterious thing that cannot be tied in a package with a pretty bow. Maybe math can be taught like it came in a nice box, or some forms of science, or perhaps language, but not singing. In fact, if you think about it, having any kind of formal training at all can be absolutely unrelated to being a great singer or teacher of singing. Manuel Garcia, one of the first and most famous singing teachers and voice researchers didn’t graduate from a university program. Judy Garland didn’t have a college education but it didn’t matter to her fans, or Ella Fitzgerald’s either. Do you think that Barbra Streisand would have been a better vocalist if she had gotten a master’s in vocal performance…….then she would have known that her belting was going to give her nodules, right? [Big sigh]

Heaven save us from “higher” education. Juries, grades, evaluations, committee meetings, faculty gatherings, departmental requirements, college policies, and the filling out of FORMS! Along the way, does anyone ever actually notice whether or not the students are happily singing like little birdies? Does anyone actually pay attention to whether or not the singers even sound GOOD? [Unfortunately, a lot of them do not].

The remedy for this situation is not more doctors of anything. The remedy is in the idea that a piece of paper, even a piece of solid gold paper, isn’t going to make any difference to anyone ever.

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