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Why Higher Education Is Not Just Found In Universities (Or - Never Heard Of The University Of Life???)
I don't know about you but I am getting rather worried about the continued focus on the "Academic Qualifications" someone has when it comes to their suitability for a job.

This blog post was partially inspired by a debate on Twitter which started when somone found an article which stated a proposal for new Police Officers to have a Degree before they sign up.  (Please note - noone appears to have decided what subject the degree should be in.  Or what level the Degree should be - Batchelor, Master, or PhD.)

It is not just because the highest qualifications I have got are GCSE and NVQ Level 1.  Although - the fact that I hated school and I would not class myself as remotely academic do come into the explanation.

The major part of the explanation as to why I never wanted to go to University can be traced back to the Leicester Royal Infirmary, Groby Road Hospital (Leicester), Great Ormond Street Hospital, and "While's Opticians" in Leicester (when it was owned by the Gavzey family).

More to the point - it can be traced back to how the Brainiacs in charge of my treatment in those various places left me feeling.  (Put it this way - I got a strong feeling that - the higher up the "Degree Foodchain" you get - the less notice you are forced to take of anyone who disagrees with you.  All you have to do is either wave your Degree Certificate at them or point at the scrambled alphabet behind your name.  This should shut them up - even if they actually know more about the subject than you do.)

I prefer dealing with people who rely on practical experience to back up their arguments.  After all, anybody can sound knowledgable about a topic which they have studied for a qualification in - but what happens when they are faced with a situation which doesn't appear in any text book???

Drilling down a little deeper into this whole argument we get to the question of exactly what subject someone should study for a degree in so they can do their chosen job???

OK - certain subjects would naturally lead to certain jobs (in the olden days anyway).  Psychology, Engineering, Physics, Computing, etc.

But I have yet to find a University Degree which teaches kindness, compassion, generosity of spirit, fearlessness, gentleness, patience, and/or humanity as its core subjects.

The other thing I have a problem with when it comes to "Qualifications over Experience" is you are in danger of overlooking the most highly qualified applicants for your job vacancies, or the most knowledgeable people when it comes to discussions on subjects like abuse, disability, discrimination, etc.

You can attend lectures or talks about the latest research on a subject but - I am afraid I switch off if they don't present their work in a way I can argue with.  I couldn't care less what "Lab Rat A" did when you injected it with Hydrochloric Sulphuric Acid - however, I would be very interested to hear what you did when you had the same thing done to you.  That would tell me you had the experience to talk to me about the subject in language I can understand - and leave me more likely to feel comfortable asking questions if I didn't understand something.

In fact, that may have something to do with why I am enjoying my photography project so much.  The roles have been reversed somewhat - the Unqualified Idiot is finally being allowed to teach someone with a PhD about something which she has a lifetime's experience of - yet the only way you can tell how "qualified" I am in the subject is whether or not I am still in one piece at the end of my latest "adventure" (ie, I am still alive and talking to the world at large).

I know NVQ's have had a bit of a bad press recently but, in my opinion at least, they are a proveable way of showing your experience as you proceed through your qualification.  Somewhere I have got a folder full of evidence which has been signed off before I got my NVQ Certificate.

I am sure that those of you with University Degrees (particularly PhD Level) are  now feeling hard done by because I appear to have tarred you all with the same brush.  Even I am forced to admit that not everybody who has the right to put "Dr" in front of their name is a patronising so-and-so who is full of their own importance.  (I must admit that the best ways I have found of coping with them are either by using my "Mental Chainsaw" - or to find out that I have absolutely zero interest in their chosen subject to start with.  A helpful hint - any Degree involving the word "Mathematics" in the title definitely fits into that category.)

It is just a real shame that the "University Of Life" doesn't hand out equivalent qualification certificates for some of the "courses" we attend there.  There would be a lot more people with PhDs in a wide range of many and varied subjects if it did.
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