It’s been a tough old week in the Cutting household and we’ve all been left questioning our motives for pursuing certain things. None more so than myself.
Questioning what you’re doing with your life seems to be some how ingrained in the social consciousness of my generation, it’s something I’ve done constantly and I use it as a guide for making life decisions. Just lately though I’ve started to wonder if questioning my life’s direction is a help or a hindrance.
When I was at school I was told that I needed to take advantage of the academia available to me and I was even given the choice to “Go to college or find somewhere else to live.” This seems a tad cruel when it’s coming from your own parents but I could see where they were coming from. My parents didn’t have the opportunities I did and they were to going to make damned sure I didn’t waste them.
The trouble was, that they, like all of my friends parents, wouldn’t accept that pursuing an academic route into the arts was taking full advantage of the scope of educational variety being displayed for their children to choose from. No, I wasn’t allowed to choose to go to Art College like I wanted to, I had to choose something that would make me money. But I was just a kid and I had no clue what I wanted to do; apart from draw, paint and write stories. So, I did the only reasonable thing I could. I took the careers directory from the Career’s Adviser’s office, I flicked through the pages and chose one at random. Not the best way to choose my first occupation but I was 15 and I had very little idea what the working world be like; or even if I’d like the career I’d chosen.
Fast forward a bit and just over two years ago I qualified as a Further Education Lecturer, who has struggled to get an actual teaching job ever since. What makes it all the more frustrating is the several dozen observation reports I have that say I’m an outstanding teacher, the glowing references from teachers I’ve worked with and the constant insistence in the media that we’re short of teachers.
Sorry Mr Prime Minister, we’re not short of teacher’s we’re short of teacher’s jobs and making my particular qualification legally equivalent to one needed to teach in a school has made no difference. Schools will not even interview you without a Department for Education Registration number and these are not given out to F.E. lecturer’s when they qualify. Hence my problem, no funding for F.E. so no jobs and Compulsory Education won’t even touch me with some one else’s barge pole.
I have a huge pile of certificates with my name on, including many related to teaching – having resorted to constant re-education whenever I’ve failed to get anything that pays a decent wage – and I’m still earning so little that I need government help just to pay my bills. I studied for years just to make less that £600 a month. I’m sure this is not the scenario my parents had in mind.
Now, I promised myself that when I had kids, if they were creatively talented in any way I would encourage them to pursue it in the hope that they didn’t fall into the same trap that I have. And so it was the case that when my eldest son finished his Gcses I pushed him to embrace his musical talent. He’s an amazing guitarist, having taught himself from scratch one summer while being grounded for misbehaving. He however, had other ideas.
“No, I don’t want to go and study music, I want a job that’s going to pay me.”
The echoes of my parents very similar lecture to me about Art College rang in my ears that day but what could I do, it was his choice.
Three years later, he’s stuck in a college course he doesn’t really want to do – it’s not the music one he should’ve done – because he can’t get a job; despite endless application form filling, several CV re-drafts and a couple of interviews. So, during a recent conversation we had about the stagnation of his life, I uttered a sarcastic comment that then came back to bite me in the arse several weeks later.
It went something like this…
“So, you decided you wanted to get a job when you left school, how’s that working out for you?” Rolls eyes while my son mutters, “It’s not.”
“Ha!” I exclaim, ” You should’ve stuck with your music, it’s what you’re good at.”
Little did I know that Hubby was in the other room listening, and saving, my harsh words to use on me.
You see, I’ve been so frustrated at not being able to teach properly and not being paid what I’m worth that I’ve done the only thing I can think of. I’ve signed up to do a masters in education. That should help me get a teaching job, right?
Maybe, I’ll still be stuck where I am right now but with an extra piece of paper in my portfolio and three years of extra student debt to my name.
I’m beginning to question whether any of the qualifications I have was worth doing (except the archery one, cos archery’s cool) and if I’m in fact making it harder for myself to get the job I want because I’m so qualified. If I were to list all of the different subjects I have a qualification in I’d be here all day; but I suppose what I’m trying to say is, what good have they done me? I could certainly do my current day job without any of the results I have above Gcse. So, why am I considering doing a masters? It will only get in the way of my writing in exactly the same way the TEFL certificate I’m currently finishing has, and writing is what I really want to do. I’ve certainly had more success with my tale telling in the last year than I have with anything else.
A masters is certainly not going to suddenly increase my current wage and will probably make me more qualified than my current manager. Not necessarily a stellar move.
I’d been slowly coming to this epiphany while we were knee deep in the horror that was last week. Everything just seemed to go wrong at once, as it does, and I was left once again thinking that life shouldn’t be this hard. So why is it so hard? I was left with only one conclusion; because we’re making it hard. The harder I seem to work, the worse things seem to get, so maybe I should just stop. Stop and concentrate on the important stuff, the stuff that’s important to me, like my writing.
Having reached this conclusion I pitched it to my hubby. He’s my first sounding board because he’s my best friend and he doesn’t criticise me when I come to a realisation that he’s been trying to bring me to previously. Well, not very often, so imagine my surprise when he threw my own words at me to point out what he’s been trying to tell me for months.
” So, you decided to complete a million and one courses to get yourself back into the class room. How’s that working out for you?”
He rolled his eyes and before I could reply, he hit me with, ” You should stick to writing it’s what you’re good at.”
I proceeded to mock him with my usual ” ha ha funny man” but it’s just a cover really because I know that he very rarely says “I told you so” but with this he had. And, I know he’s right. It’s time to write education a Dear John letter, it’s clearly not working out and we need to break up. It’s not education’s fault, it’s not him, it’s me.
I’ve had enough of course work and lectures, seminars and tutorials, it’s time to learn a different way. It’s time to write, to create and to take chances and more importantly it’s time to start saying No to anything that will take me away from any of these pursuits. I might get somewhere I might not, but I’m going to make damned sure I have fun while I’m doing it.
So with a misty eye it’s time to do what I should’ve done a long time ago, it’s time to say goodbye.
Goodbye Education, I will pursue you no more. It was fun while it lasted I hope you find some one who really appreciates you.