Today is Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A degree of knowledge

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By ANNE DONNELL I suppose because it is graduation season, and people are donning those caps and gowns, we’re hearing once again about people getting degrees by finishing high school. Please set the record straight on this. Thank you,    -Someone Who Has A Degree

First, let’s understand that an educated person continues the work of education each moment of his or her life until breath is gone, the work of lighting and filling the large dark caverns of the mind using dim lanterns and varied tools and materials we discover, invent, borrow, or steal. Diplomas usually help, but there’s more out there. 

Please understand, though, that graduates from every level deserve respect. They finished. Persevering through more than too many midnight cups of coffee and too high a stack of bills, they have tested and pushed, been tested and pushed. Wandering from despairs to epiphanies they have found a path their feet fit.

But, to lighten up, let’s say our QP of T (Question Person of Today) has a degree of annoyance. I have about ninety plus degrees of sunshine, rain, winds, thunder, lightning, weather alerts, lengthy TV weather presentations with maps and radar scans played repeatedly until I’ve mastered everything happening in the skies of Lawrenceburg. 

[ATA - According to Anne. With an elevation of 896 feet somewhere in the city, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, had a population of less than 11, 000 in the 2000 census. (There is a Lawrenceburg in neighboring Kentucky in the Frankfort area, and it has a female mayor which warms my heart as I work on my plans for painting myself red, white, and blue and generally making a big spectacle of myself -- I’m talented in that -- for the hundredth anniversary of the XIX Amendment to the United States Constitution , the amendment giving women the right to vote.  That will be August 18, 2020.)

[County seat of Lawrence County which borders on Alabama which in turn borders on hot politics, the tragic BP disaster, good scenery, and no current sightings of Elvis, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, is thought to be where Hernando de Soto and company wintered in 1540-41 long before Davy Crockett, Fred Dalton Thompson, and a very good friend of mine, A. R., who is slightly older than I and who taught math at our local high school, lived there. Neither Thompson nor my friend A. R. knew Davy Crockett (1786-1836, American legislator, frontiersman, soldier, killed at the Battle of the Alamo.) P.S. There’s a Lawrenceburg up there in Indiana, too, on the Ohio River.]

Wilson County’s own Lisa Patton is an outstanding weather person on Channel 2 so I should watch my words here when whinging against weather TV.  (FYI, whinge means “to complain fretfully, to whine.”) I was the recipient of a few Watch your mouth’s in my youth (fewer than you probably think because I was a quieter child than the adult you know would lead you to believe – what a tangled mess that last bit is!) Anyway, have you given thought as to how one would watch one’s own mouth, particularly without a mirror? Of course, this is a use of watch meaning guard. Our elders always hoped we would guard our oral output so as not to hurt others, not to hurt ourselves. In vain they hoped. Maybe not.You lifelong quiet types speak up now and tell us.

ONLINE DEPARTMENT “A Very Short Story, But Beautiful” (Thanks, P. K.) Man driving down road. Woman driving up same road. They pass each other. The woman yells out the window, PIG! Man yells out window, *****!  Man rounds the next curve.  Man crashes into a HUGE PIG in middle of road and dies.  Moral For the Day: If men would just listen.

Our QP of T wants me to clue you in on degrees. (And I was wandering around thinking she meant by degrees!) An academic degree is conferred by a college or university upon someone who has completed a course of study. These courses of study vary and are determined by the college or university. The degree obtained by finishing college is a bachelor’s and reflects four or more years of study (some pile up the classes and do this in three.) The classes taken reflect a core of required classes with a few electives. One can major in geology but take a semester of the history of rock and roll. Just keep the rocks straight.

Foreign universities can vary in requirements and title, but confer similar degrees.

Next up is the master’s degree which is obtained post college graduation by a year or more of classes and a thesis (“a dissertation embodying results of original research and esp. substantiating a specific view” – Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition ) or some kind of extensive, supervised project. Research degrees will usually add foreign language requirements.

Finally there is the doctorate, the best known of which is probably M.D. – medical doctor. But there is a research degree (PhD) and other professional degrees. Lawyers hold doctorates as do pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians. Doctorate programs take several years with complicated and varied requirements. Some doctorate programs expect the candidate to hold a master’s degree; others, like the M.D., do not. 

Honorary degrees are conferred by colleges and universities to honor those they deem worthy: people who have excelled.

The issue here was does a high school diploma confer a degree upon its recipient? The answer is no. Finishing high school prepares one to head off to college where the degrees are.  And to spring break in Florida where the degrees aren’t, unless bikinis and Bud© offer a major.

BW (Bigtime Word) matriculate – to enroll as a member of a body, especially college or university.  The catch is, you have to go to class.  Even the one at 8 AM on Saturday.

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