A New Start

Ten (10) years into my working life I took up a position at a small company with big dreams. I had only ever worked in the public sector so the switch to the private sector was jarring, to say the least. However, I voluntarily resigned my government job because I wanted this opportunity with the private sector and I was going to make it work.

Fast forward just over five (5) years later, I was eager to escape. This decision to resign, once more, weighed heavy on me. With an economic climate that was unforgiving, leaving my permanent job posed much risk and uncertainty but it was something I felt I had to do. These (5) years in the private sector really defined my working life and instilled in me a passion that I wanted to embark upon as a career. I never wanted to work in Human Resources or sit in an office but I liked people and I most definitely loved their stories.

I wanted to find a way to marry my love for reading, writing and history, with my passion for the study of society and how we can make the world a better place, with a decent standard of living for all human beings.

The world of work is driven by changes in every facet, from innovation and climate change to migration and globalisation. These facets are profoundly challenging the way we all live, and also the way we work to live. This led me to the decision to pursue school yet again. It also meant adult learning and that in itself comes with its own share of challenges.

Malcolm Shepherd Knowles (1913-1997) was an American educator known for the use of the term, “Andragogy”. According to Knowles, andragogy is the art and science of adult learning. Knowles made five (5) assumptions about the characteristics of adult learners that are different from the assumptions about child learners (pedagogy).

  1. Self-Concept
  2. Adult Learner Experience
  3. Readiness to Learn
  4. Orientation to Learning
  5. Motivation to Learn

Considering these, I asked myself a few questions and discovered these answers:

  1. Will this be challenging? Yes.
  2. Will it be worthwhile? Absolutely.
  3. Will my employer reimburse my tuition? No, I’ve only been here for less than a year.
  4. Will I get approved time-off when I need it? Yes, so long as the work gets done.
  5. Will I lose key friends and family members due to time constraints? Yes.
  6. Will I create a network of professional individuals with unlimited possibilities? Yes.
  7. Am I excited? Hell yes.

Adult learners have to balance all demands. Expect to give up many things that once seemed very important during this journey, but the things that you replace them with will be invaluable. You become more efficient and there is certainly a place for that in the job market. The sense of confidence, introspection and pride that you will gain from going back to school as an adult is priceless.

So here I am embarking on a new phase in my life through the pursuit of an academic programme that is intended to be an interdisciplinary one which draws on history, sociology, politics, economics, gender studies, industrial relations, and many other fields in assessing the place of labour and working people in society. I am excited to grasp this learning opportunity and to combine it with the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years.

But perhaps, most importantly, the programme that I have chosen to pursue at this time focusses on shaping the workplace of the future – a future that shows among other things, that you can do anything at any age.

And that’s what I am most excited about.

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