Thursday, 10 September 2015

A new day, a new dawn, a new life and I feel...


A long, long, time ago, I was sort of given the opportunity to study for a PhD. I was coming to the end of my Master's and had done an assignment that had impressed a lecturer in poultry welfare. He suggested I might want to apply for a PhD studentship they had going in the subject of broiler welfare. I was flattered that someone thought I could cope with a PhD but I wanted to be with my partner, and not have to commute to see him for another three years. Besides, he'd been completing his PhD and I'd learnt all about the visitations from the 'elephant of despair' as he was writing it up in the final year. No. Goodbye academia.

Sort of.

As fate would have it, I ended up in academia. Firstly teaching (mostly) HE in FE, and then working solely in HE. As it happens, I also missed the challenge and excitement of learning new things, so have dipped in and out of formal education ever since. I suppose, if I were truthful, I've always had a little hope that some day I could go and complete that doctorate I gave up the opportunity for.

And so... panning forward to 2015. I um and ah about applying for a professional doctorate at my current workplace. So many things act as potential obstacles: a small child still at nursery; my own vacillation; concern over whether my husband would think it a silly thing to do - a 'vanity' qualification. So many times I talked myself out of applying. maybe next year when small child is at school. But.. new logistical problems would undoubtedly rear their heads. In the end, I enquired, and there was still time to apply. I have applied and will shortly be having an interview.

And now... mild panic. I don't feel I have a strong enough background in education. It may have been my 'career' (using the term loosely) for the past 13 or so years, but I've always felt an interloper. Never more so than in my current job, where most consider our roles as being on the fringes of academia, and where each  of us has 'fallen' into the job. There's no set way to become a study skills adviser, and so perhaps I feel my lack of confidence in the role stems from this. Others know more, can quote learning theory off pat, can discuss philosophical theories. I feel like an outsider. The EdD is, at some level, an attempt to show myself (and others) that I do have the knowledge to support others, that I can support students effectively. A little bit of it is that I would have the letters Dr in front of my name - that means quite a lot in students' eyes, and academic colleagues' eyes. Perhaps it shouldn't, but it does.

What I do have is an idea to develop. I know what I want to do. I want to investigate student transition from vocational FE to HE. What are the challenges? How can we overcome them, or help students and colleagues at FE colleges too overcome them? Is there a problem there at all? Anecdotally there seems to be. But in reality? I don't know. Is it a worthwhile topic? Again, I don't know. The research project is years away. There are many challenges to come before then.

Am I up to them? I don't know. It's a new day it's a new dawn, it's a new life, and I feel excited.

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