Monday 30 January 2012

A response and good news

I was asked recently, why I don't make use of my degree, what was the point of doing it etc.

My first response was to tell them it wasn't anything to do with them and to butt out but then I thought about it further.

After taking my son around different universities for him to check out, he could see I was very interested by my excitement in the different departments, especially art and crafts. He said “Mum, why don't you go, give it a try, if you don't enjoy it you can stop”.

There was an Open Day at my local college so I went along, thinking I would have to do some A levels (I had none) in order to get into higher education - I was wrong. They quickly informed me that I could do an Access course in Art & Design and I signed up. I was now a student and quite a frightened one at that!

Anyway, the first few weeks were exhausting to say the least and without fail, I cried my way through every drawing class - I absolutely hated them. The theory side of things had to be undertaken to be believed, nothing short of mental torture trying to get the old neurons stimulated. Anyhow, I persevered and succeeded.

The college was a partner to our local university so I could do most of my art degree with them also, although some of it I would have to travel over there to complete. Five people from the Access course joined me although one promptly left when she realised she had to be a bit more serious in her swotting.

The previous Fine Art tutor left just as we joined and the new chap took time to find his feet. I took to him like a duck to water (as did most of us mums). If any one got shirty with him, we dressed them down in front of the class – they soon shut up.

I had no idea where I was going with my studies but had begun them out of sheer interest and eventually achieved great enjoyment. I had no plans for my future, much to their dismay.

Anyway, the tutor finally saw, before me, where my interests lay and gently guided me towards them. He was of a similar ilk so was a great guide. 
The essay writing got harder and harder and I thought I would never manage the dissertation but by then (the beginning of the third year) I was in my stride. None of the others in the class understood anything I was doing or saying. By this time, I didn't mind, I was truly enjoying myself and was making friends with like-minded artists around the world (take note KMB amongst others!).

Anyway, I graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art but was still hungry for more. I chose the same university to go to that was the partner to our college. I could access them by rail rather than a long road journey to, what was in hindsight, a better suited place.

They didn't do a Masters in Fine Art but assured me that my skills would manifest themselves in printmaking as a digital art. I hated the tutor, he was completely stumped by my work and after making many rude and often callous remarks, I realized I couldn't continue. After just 10 weeks, I had enough of the whole shebang. I decided to grit my teeth, force myself through the first year and achieved a Post Graduation Certificate in Printmaking.

After a break of almost 9 months, I don't want to do any more studying. I most certainly don't want to teach in any form, neither do I want to make a career out of what I do. I studied for pleasure and enjoyment and for the most part, achieved it.

Now, any work I produce (none for the past 9 months such was the effect of that tutor), I will do for enjoyment. For the moment, I am more than enjoying just being, crafting as and when the mood takes me, and being at home.

So, to anyone else who asks, get knotted, it is my life and I am leading it! 

Finally the good news. Having taken the decision to not study any more, I have listed 18 of my books on Amazon. Today, I sold my first one!


  1. I've faced similar comments , along with the 'What a shame/ waste' brigade. My story is similar to yours - an Access course as I had no 'A' levels - a wonderful English teacher who could see my potential and nurtured it, but a dreadful History teacher who was actually an RE teacher. She thought she'd teach us social and economic history to earn some extra money! It was a disaster- most people quit the course, leaving just 6 of us who had to stay as we were destined for uni. Two of us complained and we mainly taught ourselves! I was blessed with a wonderful tutor of English at uni - he had recently taken over too. Being easy on the eye and speaking with a wonderful Irish lilt helped! Most people didn't like him - he had expectations that they didn't want to live up to as they were too busy partying. They never did the pre seminar reading and most weeks the rest of the group was silent. He would try to force them to give an opinion - which they didn't like either. Quite often it would just be the two of us discussing the poetry or novels whilst the others didn't have a clue.I owe Janis and Damien a great deal- they made me believe in myself and that is worth more than anything.

    1. An interesting read - well done on getting a 1st!

      I did the traditional A-level/uni at 18 route, although my postgrad work waited a few years until I could get my employer to pay for it ;) I too though stopped at PG Cert on my Masters because of a subject mismatch and ... not great teachers.

      I think people (myself very much included) often forget that the most important lessons/skills gained from university/education in general aren't usually the subject specific facts or theories. Research & writing skills, time management, abstract thinking, critical analysis & reasoning, presenting an argument, exposure to a large range of ideas & people, confidence in approaching new ideas/skills and, if nothing else stamina - to stick with something that wasn't always enjoyable for a good few years.

      I've hardly ever used any of the specific content of my higher education in my career but I use the above skills all the time. These skills can, of course, also be learnt outside of higher/formal education but real life often gets in the way!

    2. Too true Louisa, I think it is easy to lose sight of just how many skills I have acquired over the past 5 years and that the degree is not the be all and end all of everything.

  2. Education in whatever form is never wasted, whatever you decide to do or not to do with it. Knowledge really is it's own reward and it is no-one else's business what you do with that knowledge. I applaud you for having done it all in the first place. It is 15 years since I finished my degree and I have to admit that I have learnt so much since, even if I haven't been studying officially. Just learning and reading what I am interested in. I wish, however, that I knew more about gardening right now though! That is my current area of study!

    1. Thanks - sometimes you just need someone else to let you know that they understand where you are coming from. Just ask your gardening questions, I'm sure you'll get lots of replies from us lot who have a bash at growing our own.


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