Education isn’t something I post about often, but it is something I like to think about (and occasionally blog about).
You may remember this post, where I talked about going back to uni. That didn’t last long. I was unimpressed with the course, unchallenged…I dropped out before the census date. One day I will find some further study that actually fulfils me.
Or will I?
The more I search for a postgrad degree, the less I find that I like the options. I wonder if my goals are the problem. I’ve never been one for wanting to work my way up from the bottom. I’ve never fit very well into a corporate mould. I want to work for myself. The other day I came across the Sunshine Coast University live tweeting a panel discussing higher education in Australia. I was a bit disappointed to see talk about all graduates become employees, and I tweeted as such. This was the response:
@26YearsCounting No discussion of developing entrepreneurs. UQ had Branson out last year who said unis only produced employees, not leaders.
— Uni Sunshine Coast (@usceduau) May 23, 2014
I think this is a sad focus. I really loved going to university. I absolutely loved studying anthropology. The critical thinking and analytical skills I learned at uni are two of the most valuable things I have. They are skills that are applicable anywhere (ok, maybe not that time I got fired from being a medical receptionist because I calmly and logically explained to the manager why she shouldn’t be telling me off for a situation totally out of my control).
Unless I find something that screams out at me and makes me say YES, I’ve come to acknowledge that I may be done with formal education. I have looked into doing a Research Higher Degree for the flexibility of studying and researching something that I’m really interested in. The problem with that is that a RHD is very time intensive, there’s no government support and I don’t know how to balance my life to get it done. I’ve looked into them, contacted potential supervisors …but I just can’t find a way to make committing to a few years of research possible. I didn’t do honours, so I’m not able to get a scholarship, but even if I was lucky enough to somehow get one, they are only about $25k/year and being the sole income earner, that isn’t an option.
The other factor is that I’m not really a fan of the way that academics view the internet. It’s too clinical, too removed. The topics I had in mind are personal types; clinical doesn’t really match. Any time I read anything written by an academic about online spheres of life also sounds like it was written by someone completely inexperienced and who barely understands what they were even researching.
Of course, a RHD is something you should be passionate about. I have a fear that my passion will be forced out of my writing if I was to go ahead with one. You can be academic and passionate.
All of this begs the question: What is modern education?
This is something I’m still trying to find the answer to. I love reading. I read on so many different topics. I do believe that it’s possible to teach yourself something to the value of a qualification. Especially in artistic fields. I have a strong feeling that my undergraduate degree helps me a lot in this area; in anthropology you start using research papers rather than textbooks pretty much straight away. This gives you the research skills to sort through information a lot earlier than most disciplines taught at university level. Studying made me a fast reader, quick note taker, I find it easy to summarise and I can pick the important lessons from an article (or blog post, or book) easily.
How do you really know that someone is that level of expert though? I don’t mean the marketing babble on websites. I mean how do you know when to trust that a traditionally unqualified person is actually good at what they do? How do you know they really know what they say they know? I don’t know in what way they learned. Did they just fangirl one ‘thought leader’ and not learn from anyone else? Did they read things they passionately disagree with?
I don’t know if testimonials work. I guess they make people feel good and validated though. I’m a bit cynical over them (in the same way I’m cynical over the value of employment reference) because honestly, who is going to put up a testimonial where someone didn’t like you/your product or service? When did you last read a testimonial that wasn’t glowing?
Do you trust someone who is self taught? How do you know they’re competent?