Showing posts from 2014

Why over 50 is too late

UK unemployment: Plan to help over-50s keep working  (BBC News 20 December 2014) I’ve been waiting to comment on this story and press release regarding a new UK government “fundamental reform” (promoted as a jolly, we can mend everything tale from the pre-Christmas bulletins, some might say), setting it aside   from the hyperbole surrounding it and having read through the various responses posted on news outlets. It is so closely related to the trade union funded and freelance work I do and I wanted to scream when I first read what I felt to be a patronising, disengaged and ageist approach (what that the policy purports to stand against). Here is the press release in full: Fundamental reform to fight ageism in the workplace: older workers’ scheme to tackle age discrimination . We are promised a “a world-leading new approach” so hold onto your hats blog-readers, what follows may shock you!  C hange on the way? I regularly work with older adults in employment and (throug

Three well-timed reassurances, an ongoing aside and dinner parties

I’m currently sitting at a table in my local Sainsbury’s café typing this blog post, while eating soup and keeping an eye on my son who is asleep next to me in his pram. This is pretty representative of how this particular mummy has been managing to maintain her own career around a baby-toddler since the start of term. I think he is a toddler now, if we go by the terms laid out in this guide . [In one of my other lives, I’ve been trying to convey to employability course students that using examples of competencies in your personal life makes it easier to find examples in work/academic reflective practice so I am trying it out in this blog post myself >>> Teaching by example ] PhD year 1 semester 1 ends on Friday and unlike many PhD researchers, I’m about to spend a month working as much as I can, rather than resting up over the festive season and reading interesting books. I suppose the perk is that I get to eat mince pies as I go. My husband is about to start four we

Poster Competition Success

It was the Heriot Watt School of Management and Languages annual poster competition today and my poster came, rather unexpectedly, in second place for the first year group. Here is the highly commended final version of my poster. This has been amended--a rather embarrassing typo I spotted at the last minute this lunchtime has been removed!

Standing out or blending in

A brief post to record thoughts on two issues I’ve been thinking about this week: -  What are the implications if a person thinks of themselves as a trainee or a learner rather than a student and where does an apprentice fit in amongst these titles?  -  What differences exist in experience and perception of a course of study between that which is embedded within a traineeship, internship or apprenticeship rather than as a standalone course? Where this stems from is that I was recently talking to a representative from one of the armed forces about apprenticeships and he–quite interestingly–told me, “most of our trainees are apprentices, they just don’t realise.” I’ve been thinking about the idea that someone might well be in formal or fairly structured learning without realising it, admitting to it or it being made public knowledge. Going off to be a student at 16, 17 or 18 perhaps even dependent on the subject, isn’t always the “coolest” thing to do.*  This is something

Opening up Open Educational Resources

I attended The Open University in Scotland ’s (OUiS) annual residential staff development event held at Tulliallan Police College this weekend. Alongside my work for the Arts Faculty ( see previous post ) I am a project worker for The OUiS Learning Development Team . Much of the work I have done in the last two years has engaged with our Open Educational Resources (OER). At Tulliallan, I presented with a colleague on use of The OU’s OpenLearn materials in Skills in the Workplace workshops we've delivered on behalf of Scottish Union Learning .  OpenLearn provides free online educational resources which includes some samples taken from The OU’s modules. The origins of OpenLearn and its intentions are explained here .  Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPs) I was keen to hear about other OER projects. The first session I attended of the Saturday programme was delivered by Pete Cannell and he spoke about his and Ronald Macintyre 's work on the OEPs project

No toddler-juggling allowed: university library access for student-parents

In early November 2014, I attempted to visit the library of a Scottish university with my 11 month old son. I was told by a security guard at the gate that due to the library’s rules on children I couldn’t access any area other than the ground floor, where there were only student access PCs and some study desks. There was no mention that during staffed hours a member of staff could retrieve materials for me to use on the ground floor (which in the process of collecting information for this extended blog post I discovered may be the case). So for starters, there was possibly an internal communications issue, but I want to put that aside for the moment and unpick the entire matter of library access for student-parents. This issue was highlighted in the Nuffield Foundation’s research (2012) into student-parent support within in English higher education institutions which concluded: …students with children are not getting the support they need to succeed in higher education. Whil

A Creative Interlude: A Conference and A Story

Tying in well with my previous post, today is a day away from Management PhD matters and back into the arts world I come from. It’s the annual  OU in Scotland  Arts Faculty Residential Conference at  New Lanark . I have presented papers here before, and expect to again, drawing from arts-relevant research that emerges from my PhD. However this time around, alongside papers on colleagues’ research in the arts I’ll be presenting a slightly different form of research output: reading a selection of short prose on the theme of the craft of writing. These stories emerged from my  MFA  in Creative Writing and after editing have joined a wider collection. Some have already found homes in various journals, short story magazines and one even won a competition. I’m hoping they go down well today, as they cross the boundaries between story for story’s sake, and pedagogy. They are of stories of varying length, so here is one of the shorter, suitable-for-a-blog-post-size flash fiction pieces,

November 5th: “baby you’re a firework…”

…perhaps a Catherine Wheel attached to a garden fence that stutters at first but gets going properly if you give it time, usually after the other fireworks have already gone off. Remember: never return to a lit firework, it most likely will go off in its own time. Hopefully that sets the scene for a less academic and more personal blog post. It is almost two months since PhD enrolment and there has been a noticeable lull in blog posts, which is not without a run of legitimate reasons. Having managed to actually start, despite the lingering effects of Bell’s Palsy (recent news of a previous series winner of XFactor having it means people understand better why I went into hiding for a month), the Bolger household has been repeatedly struck down with various germs (onslaughts of fresher’s flu in both directions as my husband also works for a university) plus the smallest member of the family picking them up wherever he crawls and popping out new teeth at the most inconvenient moment

Stages of Competency: Doing a PhD and The Notion of Doing a PhD

A month in and where am I at? Mainly, more aware of all the things I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about the Four Stages of Competency model of learning and have sailed through the first stage of (blissfully unaware) unconscious incompetence : “I’m doing a PhD!  Hurrah!  What fun it will be!” As the days passed I could see myself floating into the (mindfully concerning) conscious incompetence stage: I was going to list some things here that I don’t yet know but listing things you don’t know - or at least you know you don’t know - much about is not only an oxymoron but also rather demoralising and the ontology of social research is enough to be dealing with just now let alone any other philosophical quandary relating to logical (im)possibilities. Returning to the stages of competency… the next two stages are conscious competence and unconscious competence, which in the life cycle of my PhD, I’m hoping will arrive before my viva. In relation to the inner workings of a PhD, i.e. the

Website and Blog Launched

Welcome to my website and blog. Please take a look around!