Sorry for the hiatus in posting (well in a sorrynotsorry kind of way…). With school starting next week (SO glad Ben starts a little later…even if it does mean he starts on my birthday), we’ve been soaking in every last bit of summer that we can over here!
A year ago, I had the thought to post a little bit of information on the program Ben is currently in. We get A LOT of questions about what he’s doing…and (I don’t mean to sound rude here) I feel like the questions are less “how fascinating!” and more “I don’t get it.” Which is totally fine. Graduate programs are different than undergraduate programs and it seems to me that every graduate program is different than the next!
So here’s a breakdown of Ben’s schooling.
A Little Bit of Background
When Ben and I first met, he told me he was planning on majoring in accounting. Now, accounting is obviously an important and respected profession…but my husband was and is not meant to be an accountant. It just isn’t Ben. So I think we both felt a lot better when he felt directed toward studying and teaching Spanish.
Ben got his undergrad at BYU-I in Spanish Education with a minor in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). I know you’re wondering and the answer is yes, Ben served a Spanish Speaking mission (for our church) in Argentina.
During his Bachelor’s, Ben actually applied to 2 different Master’s Programs at 2 different times (his Master’s application process was anything but traditional); the first, he didn’t get into, and the second just didn’t feel right. So when Ben graduated, he was qualified to teach public school which lead us to our time in Alaska. I think Ben always kind of had a goal to do some sort of graduate program and I think that Alaska was the perfect hiatus from being a student. It was just a little reprieve before heading back into the world of schooling. While we were in Alaska, Ben applied for and was accepted into the program he’s in now (again, he only applied to one school…but so glad that this time it worked out!).
Ben’s Master’s Program
The program Ben is currently in is called a Master of Arts in Teaching Spanish. I once had someone ask what kind of art Ben did…and it really threw me off. The art Ben does is the art of language??? Ha! Ben doesn’t really do art…the program focuses on Spanish and on Teaching.
So many people ask, “Isn’t Ben fluent already?” And Imma tell you right now NOT to ask Ben that question (he’s all, “What is fluency?”). I’m just going to say YES, HE IS FLUENT (he has a hard time claiming fluency because, for example, he isn’t familiar with, say, medical terminology in Spanish (or in English ,for that matter) BUT for all intents and purposes, the man knows his way around the Spanish language). His classes are less “Baño means bathroom” and more the study of syntax, grammar, literature, etc. It’s like how we speak English but we still take an English class.
Ben’s program culminates either in students doing student teaching or in conducting a research project and writing a thesis. Ben did student teaching with his undergrad, and so he is currently working on his thesis (a study on how perception of Spanish speakers affect one’s ability to learn the language).
Ben has said a handful of times, “Everyone should do a Master’s Degree-it goes by so quickly!” And it really has flown by. Master’s Degrees (I believe) are typically 2 year programs, so Ben is halfway through and going strong.
When we tell family members that Ben’s in school, lots reply with, “Wait-but I thought he was teaching!” Not to worry, he IS also teaching. Many graduate programs offer what is called an assistantship. From what I understand, assistantships vary greatly depending on what you’re studying. Since Ben is studying teaching, his assistantship is teaching. Ben teaches 2 Spanish classes on campus each semester. It’s different than student teaching in that Ben is totally in charge of his class. He’s THE teacher. He has one of his professors view his class once or twice a semester to offer a bit of feedback, but basically Ben’s in charge of content, teaching style, testing, etc. This has been such a great opportunity for Ben because he’s essentially doing what he’ll be doing for his career (teaching college) and he’s really been enjoying it.
This assistantship has also been a gigantic blessing because it has some perks, mainly that Ben’s tuition is free (I seriously cannot even tell you how grateful we are for that) and he gets a little stipend each month. We really are so grateful.
So, What’s Next?
I always have a hard time giving plans because if I’ve learned anything in life it is that you can’t plan on anything! But, truthfully and most likely, Ben will go on…to get a PhD! Now if you want to be overwhelmed, think about going to school for 10 years and not buying a house until you’re 40! Ha! Honestly, when Ben and I dreamed of him being a professor, we knew that 10 years of schooling was a real possibility but I don’t think we really knew what that would look like. We’ve taken his schooling one step at a time and I don’t think I could’ve done it any other way.
Right now, we’re planning on having Ben apply to PhD programs this fall (I know! So soon!). And we’ll (hopefully) know where we’re headed next around March of next year. You can definitely count on me keeping you all updated!
What’s All This Been Like for Me?
Honestly, this has been a crazy ride! Our decisions have definitely been spiritually lead (and hopefully they continue to be), but even so there have been so many times where one of us says, “Ugh! Can’t Ben just quit school? Can’t he just go work at a bank or something??” It’s funny how we can know exactly what’s right, but still somehow think we know a better way. Luckily, it seems like only one of us is doubting at a time and the other person is in a good position to hold strong to the goals we’ve made and know are right.
It’s also been pretty awesome to watch Ben grow and learn. I know I NEVER talk about how great Ben is (jk I pretty much talk about his awesomeness ALL the time) but watching him grow as a teacher has been really cool. I’ve had the opportunity to watch Ben in teaching situations throughout our whole marriage (China, Sunday school, Alaska, parenting, etc.) and I’ve been able to watch him grow into a compassionate, comfortable and effective teacher. That and having him stick to this crazy amount of schooling have really made me proud of him and all he’s done. And to see his accomplishments helps to solidify that this is right no matter how long of a road it seems to be.
So bring on the PhD!
Er, maybe just finishing his Master’s…we’ll deal with the PhD one year at a time…