Well, that’s the alternative title for this blog. Is it either/or? I really do not think so. Recently, I was asked for copies of all my ‘graduate-level qualifications’. Believe me, that took some unpicking. What on earth are ‘graduate-level’ qualifications? And which of those bits of paper would count? And was there anything I thought should count that didn’t actually count? And: why was I getting so uptight? I can do a job or three so who cares whether or not I’ve got a bit of paper to prove it?
Eighteen months ago, a highly successful US businessman and philanthropist walked across the stage at Commencement (= graduation ceremony) to receive, not a business degree, but a Bachelors in Liberal Arts. He beamed. The assembled hall beamed with him. He had done it. Coming from a tough background he had made his way in the world and made sure his children had gone to university but had never had time, until then, to fill the gaps in his own educational history. Looking at that joy, no-one could say that the qualification was a waste of time.
In recent months, working on some French-led European projects, there has been much discussion about how to translate a section on ‘getting started in a profession’ which, in the mindset of the project, follows on from getting a related degree. It is unfair to say that is a ‘French’ view because some of the French partners found themselves in jobs rather than planned them but there is still that huge divide between those who learn, qualify and do a related job and those who learn and somehow end up doing something quite different or who have the job and want to fill in some background.
Tell me your stories, reach out to others and let’s make this blog work so that everyone – both despite and because of the systems they are in – can learn, live and be valued.