They’ve made learning a business – and it’s a problem…

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When I first applied to the University of Glasgow, it was primarily to get a piece of paper. A piece of paper that said I was qualified to do the job I had stumbled into at 19. I loved learning but I hated all the exams and assessments which too often required me to learn a whole bunch of stuff that I had no interest in and miss out on digging deeper into the topics I found more fascinating. The wonderful thing about my 3rd year of my Health Sciences degree was the fact that I had these fantastic Professors who allowed me to specialise within the realms of the degree.  We quickly discovered that I had an interest in Maternal and Child Health that I never knew I had before. My advisor of studies, and even some of my classmates teased me about how I could look at an essay question and relate it to maternal and child health.  From the ages of 17-20 I had avoided children and pregnant women like they were the plague. The reason I went into Health Sciences was because so much of the youth work I was doing involved healthy eating, sexual health education, drugs and alcohol awareness. Health Promotion sounded like a good idea for an undergraduate degree to lead onto Community Education.It was 10 years after I made that decision to switthat I went to Glasgow. I spoke with the course coordinator – I wanted to learn, get my diploma and end it there.

Then I went to Germany to do a two week Intensive ERASMUS programme doing comparative research into lifelong learning. I was ticked off that I didn’t get to join the Early Years research group, and had to do something that I had no knowledge of. I was soooo far from my comfort zone and was afraid of looking stupid. I ended up learning a lot and gaining in confidence instead. Even if I did realise that I still can’t stay awake for an hour long lecture. I now think the reason my marks at university were so bad in my first two years of undergraduate study have a lot to do with lecture-based learning. I don’t actually retain any of the information given in that format or learn anything from it!

Research and a Masters weren’t particularly on my radar…I was DONE with essays. But then I got surrounded by people who were doing PhDs and looking ahead to doing Masters degrees. I discovered things that I wanted to know more about…and the restrictiveness of our assignments wasn’t allowing me to explore them. Bleurgh!

The problem is…it costs  a lot of money to learn these days. Learning has been capitalised on. It has been turned into a business. It requires you to have certain resources.

Time.

Computers.

Internet access.

Oh, and money to pay tuition fees.

Empowerment is the topic that I’ve become interested in. What does it mean to be empowered. Can you actually empower someone? Is all the community work we label as empowering actually that at all?

These are the questions I’m interested in.

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