Saturday, 19 May 2012

To And Through A Career

Since 1954, I have been through these processes.

(1) Education as a means to a career.
(2) Unemployment as a gap between education and a career.
(3) Temporary, Government-funded schemes as a bridge between unemployment and a career.
(4) Part-time jobs as another bridge between unemployment and a career.
(5) Training for an alternative career.
(6) Periods of temporary work and of unemployment as a career.
(7) Training for a second alternative career.
(8) Careers as a career.

(8) (i) A publicly controlled careers advisory service.
(8) (ii) Privatisation of the careers advisory service.
(8) (iii) Its transformation into a general advisory service.
(8) (iv) De-privatisation and amalgamation with the publicly controlled Youth and Community Service.
(8) (v) Major re-structuring caused by a national financial crisis, happening now in 2011.

(9) On 31 December 2013, if not sooner, retirement from the re-structured Young People's Service.

(1) was my parents' perception. I came to regard education as an end, not a means, so I emerged from University starting to understand society but not starting a job. Since the three career aims implied above were University teaching, school teaching and careers guidance, all were educational so the process was more coherent than it seems. 

During (5), a group of graduate students including myself visited a Centre for the Study of Religion in the Urban Environment in Manchester and were each asked to give an account of ourselves to date. When I had summarised my then career so far, the Centre Director commented, "Now there's an interesting person!" because I had already studied Philosophy and Religion and worked in several jobs including teaching Religious Education. Life has continued to be "interesting"/eventful.

During (4), I taught in Bentham Grammar School 1980-81 and realised that another guy had been teaching there since I was at primary school in Scotland 1956-60. Two other men spent their entire working lives in that one Grammar School. Since then, the school, which had existed for over two hundred and fifty years and moved twice within the town, has closed. Its third site, formerly a Rectory, has been used as the Junior Department of a nearby Public School for five years and is currently due to re-open as part of a chain of schools for pupils with behavioural problems. (Will that be a big change?) (Yes, I think it will.)

My point here seems to be that our personal experience of change overlaps with historical changes but this is truer in some periods, and in some lives, than in others. In the twentieth century, two men were able to remain in a single independent school for their entire working lives but the school closed in 2002 so the Association of those formerly connected with the school will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2012. However, by its nature, the Association has a finite life span. When the last person who was a pupil in the prep school in the year the school closed has died, then there will no longer be even a potential member of the Association. In practice, the Association will probably have ceased to function long before then but for now it still manages to play a cricket season every year.

These remarks have rightly moved from the individual and autobiographical to the collective and historical and should now return from the history of a particular school to the consequences of the financial crisis. A desirable change is from competition for profit to cooperation for need. That would require not financially constrained re-structuring but unconstrained expansion of the former careers advisory service. 


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