Last week I spent half my time staffing induction and training sessions for research students here in my University and part of the rest of the time being inducted as a post-graduate student at another institution. The first was pleasurable work, the second was pleasurable ….‘work’. I think I am an intellectually promiscuous learning junkie.
One of the best parts of my first job at the University was the ability to take any OU courses free of charge. As a research assistant on a pretty basic salary ‘free of charge’ was crucial. I took modules in basic computing (in the days of mainframe computers and teletype printers linked through the UK ‘Post Office’ telephone system) Victorian culture, the history of mathematics – in fact anything that interested me. I realise that my ‘ endless earning journey’ doesn’t look in the least like the kind of employment focused student behviour that policy makers have in their economic models of education. How have I developed my human capital? How has my education demonstrated a return on investment – and to whom/what? Or have I simply been spending my time and [other people’s money] on the academic equivalent of in/conspicuous consumption – and the time and money would have been equally well spent on opera tickets and Michelin starred restaurant meals?
[from http://www.ukonlinepayday.co.uk ]
Clearly I don’t think so. But I am now a part-time self-financed student on a Master’s programme in the economics of education. Maybe I’ll have a better understanding of the economic value of my academic life in a year or so – or maybe I’ll be convinced that my time, my money – my life even- would have been better spent at the theatre.