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Studying a Masters at 50?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by br0wnsugar, Jul 9, 2020.

  1. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    Contemplating this - any advice? Anyone gone through this route - Is it only for 30 or 40 somethings?
  2. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    I have two Masters degrees, both earned part-time while teaching full-time in a secondary school while I was in my 20s and 30s. In my late 40s, I added an advanced diploma in special needs in education. Just to let you know where I'm coming from.

    First, decide why you want to do a Masters. I did mine to give my brain a workout, not in expectation of promotion or a higher salary. Just as well, because neither Masters degree made one iota of difference to my career development from my perspective in retirement.

    Secondly, if you are determined to go ahead, decide how you are going to release enough time in your busy school and domestic schedule to study and to complete the required assignments. My first Masters was in German, requiring essays to be written regularly, examinations to be sat and a dissertation to be submitted as well as attendance at an evening class once a week for two years. My second Masters was awarded after researching language teaching in East Germany and submitting a very long thesis where I wrote up my findings. The latter Masters took me a decade to complete what with a fortnight's study visit to the GDR and what with monthly trips from the north east to the London Institute of Education library, which stocked the East German language teachers' journal. When you are doing in-depth research, it's hard to decide which leads are worth following and which aren't.

    Thirdly, decide how you are going to pay for the course fees and any incidental personal expenses. Don't expect your school to be as excited as you are at the prospect of another member of staff doing a Masters. As a lifelong singleton, I paid all my own fees, which wasn't always easy to do when I bought a car and took out a mortgage to buy my own home. My school helped me a little, though, with the course fees for the SEND qualification, giving me the equivalent of my annual budgeted allowance for CPD. I also managed to reduce the course requirements, and hence my outlay and time, by claiming all the credits I could for my previous qualifications.

    I hope I haven't put you off applying for a Masters course; all I want to do is to give you some food for thought. I haven't mentioned teachers' dilemmas about whether to do a Masters in the subject(s) they teach - in my case French and German - or in some branch of educational studies. This is a very personal choice and as I mentioned above, I've done both. What matters more is your motivation to study, your ability to stay committed when you're tired after a hard day's work at the chalkface, and your willingness to do everything expected of you by the university. Good luck.
    digoryvenn likes this.
  3. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    A postscript: Being 50 is no impediment to study. In retirement and under lockdown, I spend many hours of my day studying foreign language texts to stay focused on learning new things. There are countless people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s doing self-supported study or higher degrees in preference to alternatives such as watching funeral insurance ads on daytime TV or sitting in armchairs staring at the four walls.:)
    digoryvenn, steely1 and agathamorse like this.
  4. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    I’m just wondering why you think study for a masters ( or anything else) is age related. Perhaps if you could expand on this we could give more targeted views.

    Lizzie - (last Masters completed at 63)
    digoryvenn and agathamorse like this.
  5. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    Wow and wow - thank you for your most comprehensive advice. I am considering a Masters to stretch the mind and explore teaching and learning in more depth in relations to the future of teaching. I will not be in full time employment while studying as I basically planned to save and fund the course independently and go at my own pace but also look for a basic part time non teaching post for some funds to roll in for key bills.
    Yes, the commitment is intense and deadlines will create many tense moments but the actual Masters is not for career development - more to act as consideration for posts at new schools in a year or so - studying beyond degree level can help to open new doors, if I so wish.
    Lots to decide.
    digoryvenn likes this.
  6. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    My thoughts were in terms of the landscape and career progression in schools and whether age may go against a staff member who chooses to study for a Masters to add value to the school environment or is it more prudent for the individual to read around the current issues in education, and learn and acquire knowledge in that way.
    As you may be aware, some schools are ageists and as such will overlook the 50 something with 20 years experience for a 30 something with a Masters and cheaper model, and so studying to maybe climb the ladder could be futile. (If driven to climb the ladder). For personal study then I suppose it doesn't matter.
  7. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    Thank you Dodros - your response has been most inspiring.
  8. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    In all of my career in education, I have never been concerned about my age until more recently. I suppose it depends on the school and its ethos. I'm not teaching after next week so will step away from the chalkface and re-evaluate the way forward. The inquiry into studying Masters is more to get some wonderful advice from anyone who wishes to share. I am grateful for the responses. There needs to be a service that helps ex-teachers transition out of the classroom into a programme of re-evaluation as it can be a lonely old world trying to figure out what to do when the passion from teaching has gone!
  9. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    If this is your interest the age is irrelevant. In my experience,

    In which case if it’s irrelevant whether it leads to career Progression then age is irrelevant. But if career progression is important for you, then, in my experience, I’ve never seen anyone progress career wise because of an MA.(Indeed my own 1st MA which was education based - was totally ignored even when it directly impinged on an aspect of the school’s work).
    I think ( especially in light of the pressures of study on you) the chief motivation is your own interest .

    I think that in short-sighted schools these (the emboldened characteristics) are the relevant properties rather than the MA
    digoryvenn likes this.
  10. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Should have added. If you’re interested in the MA subject matter and can manage the workload / time/ pressures , then you have nothing to lose by pursuing your interest. ( but don’t do something because it might get you promotion)

    Best wishes and good luck.
    digoryvenn likes this.
  11. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    Thank you for all of your responses and advice. I am so interested in the OU route as it just works better for me. I know that it can take time to complete a Masters but without full time teaching in the mix, I believe this will be my route along with some choice tutoring.
    digoryvenn likes this.
  12. Kateray1

    Kateray1 Occasional commenter

    This thread made interesting reading for me thank you all!
    I have a fading memory and it’s taken a few years to realise I can not personally tackle a masters now, but to hear that it is not age related was inspiring! It boils down to personal skills and attributes not your age.

    good luck all those going for it!
    digoryvenn likes this.
  13. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    Good luck br0wnsugar!

    I also had similar thought processes. I am going to do the OU route also.

    Definitely go for it!

    Good luck!

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