The two paths of academia- intertwined or isolated?

There are two distinct paths within academia. Teaching and Research. The way that academics journey down these paths is individual, some will never stray from the research path, some will jump between the two paths, some will combine the paths harmoniously. 

When starting out in academia, it can be daunting to look ahead at the two paths, both of which at the start are covered with barriers. For myself, I think I somewhat fell onto the teaching path. I have always enjoyed teaching and when I was offered a full time position (during the middle of a pandemic) I didn’t really think twice about it. This position was a teaching academic role, which as the name suggests is basically entirely teaching. So I fell onto the teaching path.

I knew early on in this contract that I still wanted to make time for research as I am passionate about research and it fuels my curiosity. So I guess my intention was to have a little side path, a little barely there research path. 

This actually made me feel inferior, I am not sure if it is just in my head, but it seems like the ‘rockstars’ of academia are the researchers. When I see other newly graduated PhDs embarking on full-time research roles, my imposter syndrome peaks its little head. But I have taken some time to reflect on my own journey down the path, and I realise that I thoroughly enjoy teaching, and I am seemingly quite good at it. It is a privilege to share knowledge with other people.

This reflection has been so influential that I intend to move forward with higher-education teaching research (researching how we can teach better, and how we can improve the PhD experience). My aim, at least for the foreseeable future,  is to intertwine the two paths. To become the best teacher that I can be, while also improving my research skills (in both a new area and I will continue my conservation psychology research also).

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