Education, Education, Education.

I can’t say I agreed with Tony Blair (Bliar? not sure) over many things but this was one quote I approved of wholeheartedly.

When I was married, my wife and I were discussing the ins and outs of paying for schooling for our daughter. An older friend, the guy who introduced us, related a story about his experiences. After marrying, he and his wife bought an Landrover and drove it from the UK to Australia. What is known as a right proper hard-core trek. In those days driving across the Middle East was possible as the religious bitching was at a relative lull. Not only was it a bold undertaking but the people they met left a lasting impression on them.

When Graham offers advice, you listen. He said that regarding children; you can only give them two things, love and education. That informed our choices re schooling and in getting divorced. Our daughter goes to a great school and she knows that, above all, that she is loved and that her Mummy and Daddy are friends. In all things to do with her we resolved to continue backing each other up so my daughter, H, got a single message. We may have our differences but we talk about and plan around H. As she is on the cusp of turning into a scheming teenager (they are all devious and scheming even if you think butter wouldn’t melt…) she knows that I won’t be sold the “but Mummy said…” story without checking first.

That aside, I got to thinking about my time in the Specials (Police Reserves for you dang foreigners). I was talking w. a mate today who is a full-time officer and we agreed that the  vast majority of police time is spent dealing with a small but significant minority (and most are repeat customers) of the population. What common distinguishing feature is shared by these people?  Most of them are thick, dense, dumb etc etc but I don’t actually believe that. I have always wondered if it was genetic but have decided that it is through lack of formal education. Sure, some of them will never be the brightest coal in the barbecue but I’ll bet they are capable of learning to read and write properly. Some are downright crafty and ingenious in the way they commit crime. In fact, they’d be a proper menace to society if they had basic Maths and English. I once spent 6 hours taking statements from two muppets that were being horrible to one another on Facebook. Neither of them seemed familiar with the concept of Unfriending someone. Gaaarrrgghh.

Amongst this small and select band of idiots, education seems to be actively sneered at and discouraged. Being unencumbered by burdensome basic literary and numeracy skills is something to be proud of. It seems that there needs to be  lessons in  education and the benefits of being educated. In Western society most countries have mechanisms for assisting those without the means to cope. In the UK we refer to the Welfare State and I believe passionately that this is a correct mechanism to have for those that actually require it. However, here comes the but, there needs to be some sort of active disincentive for those that shun the opportunity to learn and then expect to be supported by the state and waste police, doctor, teacher, court time – along with many other resources – as they know their rights. For all their knowledge of their rights there seems to be very few obligations in their mind.

This is a thorny question and much, much smarter people than me have approached it and to date failed to fix it. I believe that, a bit like National Service was obligatory back in the day, then being educated to a minimum standard should also be obligatory. You can just picture the enforcement officers. Imagine getting  stop-checked by a man with suede patches on his elbows and be made to do basic maths and punctuate a sentence or get sent back to school in a big yellow bus. Stop tittering in the back, I know I wouldn’t pass the latter part of the test.

With an education around some of the basics of life the EDL, and many of the Tabloids, would die on their arse. Small minded and ill-informed rhetoric relies on people being too stupid to be able to process the facts and come to their own conclusion. Manipulative people with access to the poorly educated can then move in and control the dumb masses. With a basic education I daresay that many more people would have the intellectual toolkit to laugh at splinter groups and move on or the radical religious whoever is the hating flavour of the month.  That poor bloody innocent soldier was hacked to death by impressionable morons, imho. Allah’s work. My arse. If there was any sort of a God then I reckon he’d frown on that, don’t you?

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A Long Time Coming

As I now live with a terribly intellectual person in the form of MFTS my mind has turned back again to something that has nagged at me for 20+ years. And that is the fact that I didn’t go to university. I haven’t got a single set of groovy post salutation letters to my name. That saddens me. Really, the letters are everything 😉

At traditional time that everyone normal goes to uni to do a degree I was crippled by some heavy enough burdens.

To whit;

  • at 18 I was extremely fortunate insofar as I KNEW EVERYTHING. What could uni possibly teach a young and obviously gifted person like me? Strangely, as I get older I seem to know less and less. Most puzzling. MFTS manages to highlight this without ever trying to specifically do so.
  • I don’t think you could have met a less secure or emotionally mature individual if you’d run a specifically focussed and anthropologically guided investigation. I was so impressionable I’d be in jail by now, no doubt.

So what does a newly separated and shortly to be officially divorced 43y old male that is currently unemployed and flailing about for some direction in life do?  Thankfully I live in a country that despite all its niggles, faults and other things I’d change (the scandalous mixture of Church and State for starters) has this phenomenal institution for people like me. It’s called the Open University.

I think I’ll do a degree. Primarily this will be so I can learn to think in a structured way, make cohesive and less rambling arguments and learn the tools to methodically analyse and interpret information. It’ll take 6 years assuming I stick at it and is damn good value.

Watch for updates. I imagine that as the workload goes up they’ll become less frequent.

Blovember #2

Day 2 and I feel like a kid being made to write the “what I did on my holidays” post half-term standard fodder.

Today I applied to Sophos for a v interesting looking role as the Sales Enablement Program Manager – Learning & Development. Looks v interesting, plays v well to my strengths and is relatively local. I don’t mind business travel but at this stage in life am not looking to relocate as that is for peeps without kids at a non-boarding  school.

The interesting thing to see is whether I am even spoken to, as my CV is coming to the UK HR Dept via a friend of a friend in Vancouver. I have never ever ever received a reply to an application via Linkedin as my CV isn’t a nice boilerplate example of I did this and then this and then this where the respective “thises” have been a steady progression along an A-B-C-D sort of obvious line. I like to think I have had an interesting and informative life but  we’ll see what Sophos think.

Background But No Skills. Is This How The Mums Feel?

As mentioned previously – one of the reasons for this blog is to make an up to date digital footprint out there in the ether. My CV is located here.

The reason for this post is that I have been turning over and over in my head the remarks a supposedly good recruiter made to me. He said, “the problem you face Dominic is that you have a strong background but no skills.” Go figure.

I am in a be nice to all mode – hence not naming him – but I was speechless. How exactly is this possible, to have a background but no skills? Did they just up and go one night while I slept?

I guess this was his way of saying “no thanks mate, you’re not for me” etc etc. I guess the time I have taken off to look after my daughter has rotted my brain and in true homeopathic style I just have an imprint left by my background, that’s all.

I now have a previously unimagined level of empathy with the skilled and competent mothers who come back to work after a child-rearing break and are gently side-lined into roles far below their capability. I have had it suggested to me on more than one occasion that I need to take several steps back. Obviously my brain is mush and this is a safe thing to do.

People are still people. Customers are still customers. They have the same basic needs, hopes, aspirations and desires that they had 3,4,5 or even 50 years ago. There seems to be a view amongst some recruiters – often the males I am ashamed to say – that looking after a child is some easy opt out and really means I am work-shy and yes; my skills have vanished.

Oddly, I retain the skills that I acquired before selling my firm. I think I have acquired more as I didn’t spend my spare  time watching Jeremy Kyle/Jerry Springer.