Explore Themes

Educational journeys

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Online exhibition theme created by Philip O'Sullivan, a member of the OU Time to Think Project Team

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An original drawing by David Smyth, who graduated with The Open University in the Compounds (Maze and Long Kesh Prison) for the Time to Think project. It shows a student with an OU book in his hand climbing steps towards an exit sign. Each step is labelled with OU course codes.
David Smyth drawing : Open University Steps
Date: 2019
Robert Campbell clip: When is a spring a security risk?
Duration: 00:01:45
Jennifer McCann clip: When I go into an art gallery I can recognise the artists that I studied then.
Duration: 00:00:55

Over 180 different OU courses in the areas of Social Sciences, Arts, Science, Mathematics, Technology, Health and Social Welfare and Law were studied by students in the prisons from 1972-2000. Course codes such as D102, U221, D209, T102, M101, MST204, A101, A309, T301 and S101 to name but a few, became part of the prison vocabulary.

We would encourage you to explore the Time to Think collection and listen to the audio clips from the student interviews. They talk about their educational journeys and memories of teaching and learning with The Open University in both formal and informal, assessed and non-assessed ways. 

Some of the topics described by the students include their trepidation on embarking on OU study, the encouragement of fellow students, reasons for studying particular subjects, the enjoyment of studying literature and solving mathematical problems while running round the Compounds of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison - amongst others. They describe developing new skills for study, being challenged to describe views which they may not have agreed with, the way that OU programmes provided a window on the world and the impact of security restrictions. Gary Smyth, who studied for a Psychology degree, commented that:

The Open University was a fountain. It gave you what you needed and if it couldn't give you everything you needed it gave you the abilities to go and search it out for yourself and to keep learning.

Gary Smyth

In the first audio clip on this page Robert Campbell talks about security restrictions and studying Maths in the H Blocks of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison. In the second clip Jennifer McCann describes the range of courses she studied.

Educational journeys (page 1 of 5)