Soap Box

I am without an employer. For me this is an opportunity to build the life I want. I am lucky enough to have a couple of opportunities for World Domination which I am pursuing like a greyhound goes after a mechanical rabbit. But for me personally, it means more than that. There are two areas in my life which have sadly whithered over the last couple of years and I need to get my gardening gloves out to nurture them back to full health.

The first is my education. I am one of the biggest supporters of Adult Education ever. Simply because the best things in my life have come about from my love of learning. I don't have a first-class brain, I will be honest with you there. Having studied and befriended people who are scarily intelligent, who process information and ideas as easily as they chew a museli bar, I know I'm not the best thinker ever. However, what I do have is an enquiring mind. I'm interested in everything and I believe in my ability to learn. This is why I'm able to go from cosmetics to ground source heat pumps in a single bound.

I had a conversation with my ex-H today about the difference between training and an education. I was ranting before I realised how strongly I feel about it, and how our school system is letting everyone down. Our schools and universities are focussing more and more on job preparation and less and less about education. Courses are being created around work-experience and job related experience. Now I don't have a problem with that per se, however, one of the things that struck me in the art college was the students attitude 'why do I have to do this course?' when confronted with the opportunity to learn something completely unrelated to their degree. Because it's interesting, because it will challenge you, because you will have the opportunity to learn something that you wouldn't normally think about in your daily life now and in the future.

Training. The learning associated with a profession or a job. GPs are trained, not educated. Their time at university is focussed soley on their profession. Which is why they have no idea about the wider world. They do their GCSEs, A levels and go straight into university. Do they have any understanding about socio-political issues that surround their patients? These will be informed by the choice of newspaper they decide to read, if they do at all. Is it any surprise they have no social skills?

Education. Learning something because it's interesting, might be useful, has no relevance to the student. Thirty years ago, Latin was drummed into grammar school students. Boring as fuck I'm sure. But I tell you what, I wish I had that opportunity. Someone who has been taught Latin has the immediate advantage over me, because they have grammatical building blocks which allow them to deconstruct and understand other foreign languages. Which is essentially why, people who speak 2 languages are able to pick up others really quickly. Me? I like communicating, I have no grasp of grammar, so for me, I make do with a reasonable vocabulary and depend on my body language to fill in the gaps.

The next few years I want to hone my analytical thinking. I want to explore theories and ideas which have no relevance to my employment, but which relate to me as an individual. I want to do an MPhil. The next few months will be about me kicking my brain into gear again. I did an exercise over the summer and even though I didn't get it, the process of doing it brought everything into sharp relief. There's no two ways about it learning is a really, really good thing for me.

A few weeks ago, I sat next to my book shelf and picked up the poetry I submitted for my degree. I was struck with a sense of disconnection. Did I really write this? Can I really do that? Write? I am so far adrift from my creative self now, I barely recognise it or believe it exists. And when I write this, believe me when I say I feel a real sense of panic. I feel as every day drifts past that I'm losing the most fundamental part of myself.

I'm breathing deeply through the terror, trying to calm myself down. I tell myself it's a muscle that hasn't been exercised. I haven't lost it. It's still there, waiting to flex. All there is to be done is to start off slowly again. There are writing exercises that I can do, I have a great camera to take out, there are buses to travel on.

Maybe that's the place to start again. Good grief, I think I'm about to go round again, not in a circle, but in a spiral. Will you keep me company? Please?


  1. Right behind ya girl x

  2. Oh renaissance - yeah let's march onwards christian soldiers - or would "pagan warriors" be the more fitting choice of words?
    The good thing about the Latin is also, that when you learned the vocabulary, you'll find all these words in the Wetsern languages again. What exactly is a "MPhil" and what kind of "topics", what "area of knowledge" (sorry, can't express it better at the moment) is covered? SO let's see where the path will lead to Mrs. Faust.

  3. there's an old saying, seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. keep moving forward, sugar, we're all with you! xoxoxo

  4. Creativity is a way of thinking and sometimes life pushes us to change our thinking to more practical things just to get by. There is a way back, I know because I found it. You're on the right track with the writing exercises.
    I think the thing that really helped me was going out and engaging with the things and people that inspire me. Also allowing your writing to be not so good for a while, you're right it is a muscle and you need to build back up to the good stuff.

    Go for it!

  5. I'm here for support. But please don't ask me any math questions.

  6. I don't think you're apart from it. I just think it's been focussed differently.

    Every day in life, and in business, challenges plop themselves in front of us and expect us to come up with new and exciting ways of circumnavigating them.
    It's just that most of these challenges are... Well... Kind of boring ;)
    So it doesn't really feel creative.

    Giving yourself the space and freedom to scratch your creative itch in a manner of your pleasing will allow what matters to you to come back into focus.

    And, like pointing your camera at something, that focus never clicks straight there; there's always that slight delay.

    Just give it a little time, and before you know it, you'll find your creative juices staring across the room at you as you stare back at them and both exclaim together, "Oh! I didn't expect to see you here!" before exchanging hugs and cracking on with da good shit ;)

  7. I did five years of compulsory Latin and failed it miserably at O level... however, it has certainly come in handy from time to time...

    But the "off-beam" courses I gained the most benefit from were the odd "fillers" in the 6th form - stuff like cookery lessons (for male students, which was unusual then), computing (which was also pretty way out in 1970 I can tell you) and musical appreciation...

  8. sarah ~ thank you honey.

    dave ~ :D

    mago ~ an MPhil is often used as the first year of a PhD. It can be non-original research and I'm thinking of looking at blogging and community.

    savannah ~ I think the day I stop learning, they'll be putting me in a box to cook.

    curious ~ you're absolutely right. I've got to write the crap out to get to the good stuff. It's giving myself the permission to do so, which is the challenge.

    xl ~ trust me when I say, there's absolutely no maths involved. Ugh.

    colin ~ I think you've hit the nail on the head. Small steps.

    cogidubnus ~ you obviously did your exams in a time when they were challenging. I don't think they do fillers anymore, no proviso for things that would be useful, interesting or fun. I bet your computing course included punch cards.

  9. That sounds really good for you, blogging and community - perfect! It'll be something of your own too, which makes a difference, especially when other life stuff isn't as great as one would like sometimes. Go for it and see how it develops!

  10. The MPhil sounds interesting. There are lots of possibilities with blogging, with the disintegration of traditional communities blogging has become an outlet for our need for a sense of community. Oh I'm getting excited by possible theorists already. Academia is like a drug to me!

  11. Whatto! Not another bloody student!

  12. bracelet ~ it's something that has been feeding me for years and a relatively new phenomena, so it'll be exciting to research.

    curious ~ I'm not so much interested in the distintegration of modern society, which I think is erroneous anyway. Society is evolving, not erroding, no matter what the doomsayers rant. I am interested with the idea that the internet has given us the opportunity to be part of people's lives that we wouldn't normally IRL.

    lord noel ~ I've never really stopped I'm afraid.

  13. My fella is going through exactly the same feelings Roses. Hes always had that thirst for knowledge and just keeps learning.
    We are all right behind you here on your journey, its been one hell of a ride and I for one am looking forward to the next part.
    Its never lost whats inside us, just sometimes gets a little buried in the other stuff.
    Bring her out and take this challenge on smiling..
    We are right behind you..

  14. b*e*g ~ hello gorgeous, how are you love? I'm looking forward to the journey. I have a real sense of anticipation. This is what I'm supposed to be doing.

  15. Good for you Roses...You lead on and we'll follow! (Where have I heard that before?)...

  16. cogidubnus

  17. I'm with you on the latin thing....I had the choice at 14 between taking a classical language or a modern one and chose German...sure the German has given me a fine appreciation of bratwurst, weissbier, I've lived in another country and made lots of lovely German friends, but I always wonder what if... Others must do too, because last time i looked into latin evening and weekend courses in central London all have loooooong waiting lists...

    I say go for steps and all that and soon you'll be right back into it...and anyway how boring is life unless you feel the terror of the unknown now and again...get on that bus now lady and get journeying...

  18. mago ~ I'll let cogidubnus speak for himself.

    NM ~ welcome back stranger. As for the rest of your comment, that will be answered in tomorrow's post.

  19. Great post, I'm totally in agreement with your agreement on training vs general education.

    I'm also trying to regain my confidence as a writer. Reading some of my older work is almost like reading someone else's stuff. I can remember writing them, but I can't imagine writing like that now. It's definitely a muscle which needs to be exercised regularly.

  20. pj ~ I'm finding the hardest part is actually developing my writing practise. Writing every day, keeping my journal and doing exercises before I sit down to write. However, there's no rush and I need to do this.


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