I watched a programme about the Open University this week that really helped me gain some insight into my beliefs about higher education and the potential for transformation.
My first degree was with the Open University and it was truly revelatory… After years of not thinking I was very bright I found I enjoyed learning and that I was really, really good at maths and physics – getting 100% for many of my assignments. It feels really strange to write that down and appreciate my ability..
I have always thought that I’d got a “noddy” degree, that in spite of working my butt off for 7 years and competently holding down a full-time job I hadn’t really fully appreciated what I’d done. Watching the programme with Lenny Henry made me realise that my degree is as good as anyone else’s and that the OU had to deliver very high quality education because it really mattered. Politicians wanted them to fail and they were always developing high quality material from the start to make sure those politicians couldn’t criticise the teaching.
The vision behind the OU was also about countering privilege and entitlement… Being OPEN to anyone really flew in the face of the prevailing culture about elitism and being a graduate. Studying with the OU really did change my life, helped me see what I could do and I certainly have had 2 contrasting academic careers thanks to that pioneering approach. I not only studied with the OU but also my first academic job was as a Tutor for a course on ageing that was very rigorous and underpinned by interdisciplinary and intersectional learning… It was fab!!!
It isn’t often that a TV programme makes a difference but this one did and I now can see why I am driven to emancipation and enablement in education and why social justice matters.
It has sown many seeds of thought about my values in education and why it matters to me that I have meaningful relationships with students. That it isn’t enough for the teaching/learning to be transactional ..emotions play a large part for me and I want to investigate this more…
I am going to start sharing these reflections more and start exploring what matters most for me in a caring, compassionate, critical and creative learning environment.