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‘Duck Dynasty’s’ Phil Robertson is a former teacher with a master’s degree

“Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson, now famously suspended from his family’s popular television show for making shockingly offensive remarks about blacks and gays, once taught in Louisiana schools and has a bachelor’s degree in physical education as well as a master’s degree in education. He even “kinda liked” Shakespeare. That, at least, is what he has said in interviews and on the Duck Commander Web site.

According to his biography on his family’s Web site:

As a high-school athlete, Phil earned All-State rankings in football, baseball, and track, which afforded him the opportunity to attend Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. There, Phil played first-string quarterback – ahead of Terry Bradshaw, who later went on to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers team to 4 Super Bowl championships. Phil said, “Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks.” After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a Master’s in Education, Phil spent several years teaching in Louisiana schools. Acclaimed as an excellent teacher by his students, Phil came to the conclusion that his time and talents would be better spent in the woods.

Phil Robertson in A&E’s “Duck Dynasty.” (Karolina Wojtasik Copyright 2013)


He didn’t say exactly when he taught or what he taught, but he has made repeated references in interviews  to teaching and his degrees in interviews. For example, an interview published last year with Holly Anderson on Sport Illustrated’s Campus Union site said in part:

Robertson went to work as a schoolteacher for several years after graduating from Tech, obtaining his master’s degree in education via night classes, with a concentration in English. “I kinda liked ol’ Shakespeare and them guys, you know,” Robertson said. “I went back and got my master’s just in case. I thought, if I ever needed it, I’d have the sheepskin to show people no matter how dumb I looked, actually I was about half intelligent. I got the degree to let ’em know I wasn’t as dumb as I acted.”

He said in this interview with that he gave up teaching and began fishing so he could earn money to start his business manufacturing duck calls. People, he said, thought he was crazy:

Well, I repented at 28 and turned to Jesus. About a year later I said, “Miss Kay, find me a place down on the river. You know what I’m going to do? I’m not going to teach school any more (I knew you all could tell I’m an educated man by looking at me.) You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to fish the Ouachita River and I’m going to catch catfish and buffalo and I’m going to sell them …

… At the time, when people would come by and say, “So let me get this right. What do you do?”

“Well, I’m fishing the Ouachita River and I’m trying to get this duck call on the market.”

And they would say, “You have a master’s degree?” I said, “That is correct. I’m a very smart fisherman because I have the sheepskin to prove it.”

So, they would usually leave thinking, What an idiot! But fast forward 40 years from the fishing and trying to get the duck call going to where we now are. We have now entered the world of Hollywood. We now have a multimillion-dollar business and Miss Kay’s line has now become infamous.

And now he also has a suspension from the A&E network for his outrageous and uninformed remarks, which, incidentally, would have caused him huge problems if he were still a teacher.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · December 20, 2013

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