the path not taken

I went to visit some practitioners working in my field.  Although I like very much being a professor, I always feel a bit wistful when I talk to them—they seem to enjoy what they are doing, and often the practice is (well) ahead of the theory.  They solve interesting applied problems. 

It is also quite invigorating talking to practitioners—they routinely use the underlyg ideas in my field  in sophisticated, clever, and creative ways.  I can see directly the value-added in what we teach in  the classroom. And what matters is a deep and clear understanding of  the basic ideas and how to apply them, not knowing the correct buzzwords and so on.  Being able to explain is at least as valuable as the technical stuff.

I always leave wondering if I have what it takes to be successful in in the real world.  I am a bit scared to find out.

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One response to “the path not taken

  1. For better or worse, such wistfulness is usually absent in political science (and for me, is always absent). The connection between academic and practitioner is very weak, as we generally shake our heads in disbelief and try to construct theories to figure them out. Unfortunately, this gap also means they often ignore us.

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