One has to wonder. A Master’s Degree takes a lot of work. I got mine a couple of years ago, and it was a harrowing experience. I stressed for months and months, studying for my comprehensive exams, and when I finally graduated cum laude with a 3.92 average, I couldn’t have been prouder! All the term papers and exams had finally paid off! And yes, I’m bragging. I drank my way through undergrad at Johns Hopkins, and didn’t even bother graduating with a 3.0. As a matter of fact, there was one semester (freshman year – spring) that I didn’t even break a 1.0 GPA! So yeah. I feel all accomplished.
But my MA is in National Security Studies – it’s a subject with some substance and a lot of literature associated with it. It helped me get a terrific job that I love and a promotion I’d been seeking.
That’s why I just don’t get this guy.
A few years ago, Joe Therrien, a graduate of the NYC Teaching Fellows program, was working as a full-time drama teacher at a public elementary school in New York City. Frustrated by huge class sizes, sparse resources and a disorganized bureaucracy, he set off to the University of Connecticut to get an MFA in his passion—puppetry. Three years and $35,000 in student loans later, he emerged with degree in hand, and because puppeteers aren’t exactly in high demand, he went looking for work at his old school. The intervening years had been brutal to the city’s school budgets—down about 14 percent on average since 2007. A virtual hiring freeze has been in place since 2009 in most subject areas, arts included, and spending on art supplies in elementary schools crashed by 73 percent between 2006 and 2009. So even though Joe’s old principal was excited to have him back, she just couldn’t afford to hire a new full-time teacher. Instead, he’s working at his old school as a full-time “substitute”; he writes his own curriculum, holds regular classes and does everything a normal teacher does. “But sub pay is about 50 percent of a full-time salaried position,” he says, “so I’m working for half as much as I did four years ago, before grad school, and I don’t have health insurance…. It’s the best-paying job I could find.”
OK, let me understand this.
This tool left a teaching position that pays AT THE VERY LEAST $45,500 base salary for teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and no prior teaching experience (and that doesn’t even include salary steps and bonuses) to get a Masters of Fine Arts degree in…
Yes, puppetry. An “art” in which you manipulate (he he *insert Beavis voice here* – she said “manipulate”) dolls with either strings attached to their limbs, or by sticking your hand up their… uh… skirts.
He has a degree – a Master’s Degree – in it! Puppetry!
This douche spent $35,000 he didn’t have, as witnessed by the fact that he has $35,000 in student loans, to learn how to manipulate dolls, thinking this oh-so-useful skill would help him find a job.
I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t see a big demand for puppeteers. No help wanted ads in any newspaper I’ve ever read ask for guys with a degree in sticking their hands up dolls’ garments. I’m not even sure how this… um… “degree” would make him a better teacher!
So he left a good paying job, got a worthless degree that cost him thousands of dollars, and somehow expected to get hired right back… in this economy… after having spent $35,000 he didn’t have on an MFA in… puppetry.
And now he’s occupying Wall Street, and crying that his poor life choices somehow entitle him to have the rest of us subsidize him.
He’s occupying Wall Street, because he thought that hard work and education would afford him a measure of upward mobility.
Seriously? Hard work in puppetry?
He actually expected the NYC school system to hire him back with a nice $10,000 raise, because he got a Master’s Degree – no matter how useless the topic?
What is it that Joe studied? What kind of classes did he take?
- String length: effective techniques to make your puppets’ fist pump of anarchy even more potent;
- Fingers: how far up is too far?
- Manipulation techniques;
- Dance, Puppet, Dance! Interpretive Movement Behind the Curtain;
- Modern Geniuses: the Artistry of Jeff Dunham;
- Hand vs. Shadow Puppets: pros and cons
- The Joys of Puppet Erotica (None Dare Call it Porn!)
What were Joe’s comprehensive exams like?
“I’m sorry, Mr. Therrien, but I saw your fingers move suggestively over that puppet’s butt. That’s 10 points off.”
Look – it may have been fun to borrow $35,000 to play with dolls, but I can’t imagine this guy actually thought this degree would bring him any kind of upward mobility!
It’s all well and good to make lousy economic decisions in your life. You’re entitled to your mistakes. You can’t blame capitalism, corporatism or anything else for your inability to find work with a degree in doll manipulation.
But don’t complain when faced with the logical consequences of your bad decisions.