Back To School
It is now just under a week before I start that thing I said I would never do – the university course.
To say I feel nervous would be an understatement. There are so many reasons why I have never wanted to undertake a degree and I certainly never thought I would be doing it now I am the wrong side of 40.
It’s that time of year when students of all ages go back to school. I have to admit to allowing myself a wry smile whenever I have walked past a shop with a hoarding reminding everyone.
Yes – I have caught myself wondering if I need a pencil case and other stationary.
Am I prepared? No.
Right now I don’t even have a functioning computer never mind a printer. My laptop bricked a few months back so that is one thing to worry about.
To be honest, every blog I have ever written (including this one) has been done on an iPhone but something tells me that I am going to need something a bit more substantial for the next couple of years.
I do like nice notepads and so I have decided to treat myself to a new Moleskine one in the coming week. I am going to have to manage with a pad and pen for the first few weeks or months.
Asides from the lack of modern equipment I am also questioning whether I am mentally prepared.
I have fought against this for over 20 years. Ignored it. Dismissed it. Turned away from it but now I am about to do it.
As I have said previously – I still maintain that police officers do not need degrees. I still think it would be a huge mistake to go down this route. I don’t believe it will produce the supposed benefits that are being claimed and I think making one compulsory before you can join will exclude all kinds of people from the service.
The police service is supposed to be representative of society and not all of society have degrees.
I am doing this because, against all of my instincts and despite having tried to resist it, I have found that in academia there is a place for open discussion, debate and disagreement that the police service simply is not ready for. I don’t think it ever will be. I don’t think it ever can be. And so – to stop myself going stir crazy I have decided to see if my natural desire to question and discuss has a home somewhere else.
But I am nervous. For a start I have no idea what to expect. For seconds I have no idea what I am going to be studying yet.
I have been selected to do a Masters by Research. I am bypassing Batchelors and have not done any formal study at all since I was 18. I’m in at the deep end.
My biggest fear is that I will feel like I did when I *was* in a classroom at 18. I hated it. I wanted out of it. I didn’t enjoy it at all. The hairs on the back of my neck go up when I think back to how I felt back then and I am terrified that it will feel like that – that I will regress.
I hated the books I had to read and wanted to read things I liked.
The advantage of an MSc by Research is that *I* get to choose the area for study. I choose the subject matter and the question I want to answer. I am hoping that by choosing a subject I am passionate about it will prevent me from feeling trapped in a topic I want to escape from.
In terms of what I am going to research – that is to be finalised but the shortlist includes research as to whether the existing sickness management procedures in policing are effective (do they help or hinder recovery? Are they used properly for those who do “swing the lead”?) or something relating to mental health and policing.
The first is wellbeing related and the second is a subject I care about deeply.
It is something I have to think carefully about but also recognise my limitations in. I am not medically qualified and so I need to remain within my own knowledge base.
I know that the team at the University are kind and hugely encouraging and supportive. I know that the ethos of the university itself very much suits my way of thinking and my own beliefs about the value of the practitioner. I am ready to be challenged and to challenge.
I don’t underestimate the scale of this challenge. I will be doing this, like many other adult learners, in my own time and whilst holding down a demanding full time job. This scares me as well.
I am looking forward to it immensely along with the chances it will bring to see people again and again but my heart really is in my mouth even as I type this.
I am going to do something I said I would never do – I’m going back to school.