Wednesday 27 September 2006

That 'new term' feeling.

Despite being over 40 and having been out of the education system for almost twenty years, September always feels like the start of a new term. Maybe it is about coming back to work from holiday having done more reflection than is normally the case (or maybe than is actually healthy).

This September the theme of education seems to be particularly strong.

My eldest daughter started secondary school this month. On the first day she came home clutching a glossy spiral-bound manual full of mission statements and milestones. More reminiscent of the kind of corporate bullshit that I have got used to seeing at work. I had assumed that her school, a comprehensive that harked back to former 'glory days' as a grammar would be essentially like my own; a bit crap and run down but essentially humane and with its heart in the right place. This seems altogether more sinister.

I also attended my twenty year graduation reunion dinner. Being an Oxbridge institution this was an opulent and grandiose affair, including an overnight stay in college rooms. The whole thing is free, probably with an eye to encouraging alumni to make some sort of benevolent bequest (not much chance in my case though). I had very mixed feelings about the whole thing - much as I did about my time as a student. Twenty years ago I had a pretty big chip on my shoulder about class and I felt politically vindicated in regarding most of the students as 'the enemy'. At the reunion there were some that I could still quite happily regard as one day being on the other side of the barricades. But the vast majority were actually pleasant, albeit surprisingly very dull given the supposed collective intellect gathered in the room.

I go to the gym to keep in shape physically but I have become increasingly worried that my brain may be wasting away through neglect. So, I have signed on for a distant learning course in archaeology. It is only a short, non-accredited course because I just want to dip my toe in the waters of learning again and I am not really concerned about getting any further qualifications. I have always read widely and in spurts of interest on particular subjects that become an obsession for a few months - so it is good to have the discipline again of working through a reading list and taking notes.

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