Sunday, 27 May 2018

Qualifying Things... Lynn Huggins-Cooper

I have been ruminating on something lately. People today are in a constant state of qualifying. To clarify, I mean the drive for professional qualifications of all levels. Youngest daughter is studying for her A Levels; lovely children I have been working with are taking their GCSEs. Everyone seems to be at it. My Facebook feed is full of entreaties to train in Level 2 this and Level 3 that, funded by the government. I get it - we have a skills deficit, and training people to have those skills can only be A Very Good Thing. 

However much I believe in lifelong learning - and I wholeheartedly do - I don't think education should all be about gaining qualifications. That's rich coming from me, I know, as I have a sheaf of degrees and other qualifications. Easy for me to say. I take courses all of the time these days, but they are more focused on practical skills such as book binding and making ink. I am still 'educating' myself - but not for a qualification but rather for enrichment. I suppose that is what I am worried about - that people do not have the space, time or energy to take courses that enrich their lives as they are so busy making a living.

Lovely husband is in the first year of a creative writing degree. I am delighted by this. It is a hard push for him to do the work alongside full time work, but it will enrich his life beyond measure. I can see it happening already. It takes his mind to places that his everyday life does not - and that can only be a good thing; education in the truest, most perfect form.

I think as authors, we have a part to play in the rich warp and weft of everyday learning. Our books make people think, we hope. They lead them to places they may not have gone otherwise; they spark ideas and make connections. But the actual writing of the books also educates me. I research and learn new things - my favourite phase of the writing process. Then my brain sifts through the soup of ideas the research creates. It composts and brews, and makes new and sometimes odd pathways for my mind to wander.

So - just a thought - maybe we should be teaching folks to learn and explore so they enjoy their lives rather than purely to qualify. They can do both - hopefully at the same time! The best types of qualification do this of course. I just want them to do it more...

1 comment:

Anne Booth said...

I agree. I think it would be great to convey to others that learning isn't just about formal qualifications. It's all part of life and can also come from talking to people and travelling to places. One of the things I love most is researching for my books - I don't have a qualification to show that I've learnt fascinating things about humming birds from watching YouTube videos and TV documentaries , or learnt from talking to an otter keeper about how baby otters don't like learning to swim in water, or a wild life rescuer about re-introducing rabbits to the wild, but this is all part of the learning which goes into stories and it makes my life so much more fun and interesting. And I feel I have learnt just as much History researching my MG books as I did for A level History, and my research didn't only involve reading books, but also going to exhibitions and travelling to Germany and Lindisfarne and looking at artefacts from the times. I hope that we can convey this love of life-long learning to our readers when we talk about our books! And good luck to your A level candidate - I have two this year!