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Friday, 13 November 2009

What doesnt kill you.......etc etc

Compare these two pieces of advice:

Advice Number One: "The Certificate in Teaching in Lifelong Learning is exactly suited to your career aspirations. You should definitely do this course.We have loads of great contacts to help you find a teaching placement."

Advice Number Two: "The Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning is not at all what you should do. You will struggle in the second part of the course if you dont have a teaching placement. We cannot give any help in finding you a placement."

Those equipped with some reading ability and a minimum amount of 'nouse' (Scouse for common sense - although some allege that statement in itself is oxymoronic) might discern a difference in the implications of above advice, so if I was teaching the above as an exercise in comprehension, in, say, a Basic Literacy or Skills For Life module, or as part of a Business Skills Course that I was teaching, I might be tempted to stretch my students further by asking them to analyse the following exchanges and derive from them a strategy for the engaged participants to pursue immediately after partaking in said reported conversations:

Conversation 1:
Johnny Wannabee : "I really want to get involved in training - pass on some skills, hopefully at Further Education Level - my big concern is that your course is the most appropriate course to take....? "

Professor Halfass : "Oh yeah, absolutely. Our course is perfectly suited to what you've described, in fact, its probably the best course you could have enquired about to suit your goals..."

Conversation Two:

Johnny Wannabee: "So I'm doing a degree in Education Studies with Psychology, and obvioulsy after that I will be perfectly qualified, maybe with a bit of training afterwards, to teach at your facility. When do I start?"

Monsieur Ed LeAdult : "Who told you that? What a useless degree. If you had wanted to teach - anything - you should have done a specialist degree. Then you could have done a Post Grad in that specialism. Then a Certificate in Teaching Adult Education."

And if I illuminated matters further by informing my Skills for Life learners that Monsieur Ed LeAdult was in fact also issuer of Advice Number One, and Advice Number Two (albeit with a temporal seperation), and that all pieces of advice were issued to the same person, then I think you will find it understandable if my gave my Skills for Life learners a Gold Star for returning their comprehension exercise advising that the best course of action for Monsieur Ed LeAdult was to leave the country immediately and seek anonymous refuge somewhere very far away on account of the bounty that had been placed on his head by those who had sought advice from him.

The main problem with the above mentioned scenario is, at least from my perspective, that I am in fact "Johnny Wannabee". This means that I am not teaching a Skills for Life course, so the proposed exercise will not be given. In fact, at this exact moment, the possibility of any teaching by yours truly is as distant as it has ever been, so much so that I am currently seeking a position in waste disposal on the basis that I am possibly more equipped to recognise bullshit (but only retropsectively) than I have been at any time in my existence.

The frustration, which you may, if sensitive, sense in the foregoing, arises from my further, recent research into my career options. As you may know, I am in my Second Year of a Degree in Education Studies, a degree that was "sold" as the perfect solution to an ambition to "teach people to knock nails into a bit of wood". However, as a complement to this (and in order to fast track my teaching ambitions) I seperately started a night class in Preparing To Teach in Lifelong Learning . This night class is the introductory element of a two part qualification, the second part of which the Certificate in Teaching in Lifelong Learning, continues after Christmas. As Preparing to Teach in Lifelong Learning is approaching it's completion, I visited my College to enquire about assistance in obtaining a teaching placement for the next semester - an essential element of this second part of the qualification - and the results of those several weeks of meetings, advice and discussions are the mess that is reported in the non-hypothetical conversations above.

One, of course, should always take responsibility for one's own contribution to any situations that one becomes embroiled in, and my case is no different. In the detail of the conversations I have had over the last few weeks, it has become apparent that if I had really wanted to be best placed to pass on life skills, advice, knowledge and experience to adult persons, I would have been better placed starting earlier. In fact, ideally, it has emerged, I would have been better off, in terms of advising, teaching or lecturing people on matters related to life experience, if I had not bothered with actually gaining any life experience at all. It transpires that the things I have done, like working in a specialised industry for twenty years, running a couple of companies, emigrating, living in different ciies, renovating a couple of houses, being a professional musician etc are a massive hinderance in teaching Life Skills, Business Skills or in becoming a career advisor.

The final nail in the coffin of a depressing couple of weeks came when Monsieur Ed LeAdult enquired whether I had considered consolidating my qualifications with a Study Skills course. "Study Skills is a big area", he told me, "Your degree might be useful to the Learning Advice people. Helping students understand their Learning Styles and become better learners is big area right now".

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