I’m only a few days away from beginning doctoral studies in September, and I’m super eager to begin. I’ve already been enjoying communicating a bit with members of the students in my cohort, and I am truly humbled by the depth and breadth of experience they possess in the field of education, which far exceeds my own.
Signing up for this Doctorate of Education program was ultimately a pretty easy choice: the program is offered by the University of Western Ontario, a well-regarded Canadian university; it^s available at a distance, a must for me given my status as an expat; and the concentration in international school leadership is right in line with my needs.
The one thing that concerned me prior to signing on was my lack of knowledge about the degree offered. I’d only seen the EdD distinction attached to a few names on Twitter, and wasn’t really aware of how it compared to the more familiar PhD degree.
Researching the topic led to a debate that has apparently been going on for years regarding the comparative value and perception within academia regarding the degrees. Strong opinions exist on both sides, with some individuals declaring the two degrees equivalent and others stating that the EdD involves nowhere near the level of academic rigor of a PhD and that it is seen as a lesser achievement.
Reading the disdain that some academics had for the EdD caused me to hesitate before signing on for the program for all of about three seconds . . .
Ultimately, I’ve not signed on for this degree to impress academics or to show off. The program will take me three years to complete and cost tens of thousands of dollars. That’s a lot of time and money for a couple of letters after my name and bragging rights, if that was all I was after. But it’s not.
I’m doing this to learn more. I’m doing this to become a better leader and teacher. I’m doing this to keep my work meaningful. Most importantly, I’m doing this for the kids.
I believe that education is important and that we’re in the midst of a time of great change. I believe that the kids I see everyday at school are going to inherit this sometimes messy world we’re leaving for them and will need a whole lot of skills to keep it in one piece for their kids to inherit one day in turn. That’s important.
Regardless of how different groups of people choose to compare and stack degrees like the EdD and PhD up against one another, I’m stoked to be entering the Western EdD program. It’s a program that’s accessible, affordable, and relevant to my practice. I can’t wait to get started learning more about how to better make sure that kids today get ready for tomorrow’s world.
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 18 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Head of Innovation & Learning at an international school in Malaysia and is a proud husband and father.