Further Educasham

One of the fun things about German universities is that there’s no limit on the length of your degree. Tuition fees are cheap, rent is cheap (shhh, perhaps if we stay really quiet and don’t make any sudden moves they’ll stay that way) and so to an astonishing extent it’s possible to carry on bumbling away at your degree until qualifications are moot because you’re old enough to retire anyway. Of course, I’m being facetious; it’s certainly not ideal and it certainly is unsettling going to numerous flat viewings hosted by aging men with ponytails and sarongs pinned to the walls, who say that they hope to be done with their masters in the next 4-10 years.

But I can’t blame German students for taking their sweet time with their degrees sometimes, because the opportunities for learning anything at all useful after the day you first jump around with your friends wearing a square piece of felt glued to a skullcap are pitiful. I am now trying to find a course where I can properly learn web design. Finding anything at all is tricky enough: asking any interwebically gifted friends just leads to them saying ‘oh you don’t need a course, you can learn everything you need with just online tutorials, it’s easy!’ right before they go back to programming their latest humanoid photosynthetic robot with Mandarin Chinese language function. Maybe it’s easy for some, but not for me. I want a teacher, and defined things to learn and develop. Sadly, it would seem that once you are an adult,  the educational ship has sailed.

Well, there are some options. Have a degree? Why not do a masters? Sure, you can pretty much only do a masters in something almost identical to your BA, but it’ll be fun at least! Or you could do an MBA, which anyone can do and sets you up to be a global maverick – unless, like me, you have a brain made of damp wool and can barely spell the word maverick. Want to do something totally new and different? Hm, that’s trickier…the adult learning centres in Berlin are wonderful and will get you on the path to really making a name for yourself in the world of ceramics! For more professional skills, though, it’s a tad patchy. Private courses are a possibility – you’ll have to sell your hair to a Russian wig factory to pay for it, but you gotta spend money to make money, right?

Distance learning is another option, but it also seems a little off somehow; if you contact a distance learning school just once to ask them a tiny inquiry, your postbox immediately fills with great big sheafs of marketing literature for the school and its courses,  inevitably with some blonde woman on the front,  smiling so hard it looks like her cheeks will rupture, next to an italicised quote about how ‘my distance learning course helped me to find a new direction/professional development/a vocation for life!’ I contacted three schools and my flat is now a Giant’s Causeway of stacks of glossy course brochures and pre-paid addressed envelopes so that I can enrol WITHOUT DELAY! It all smacks a little of used-car-salesroom patter, and it doesn’t boost one’s confidence that one is choosing a solid, respectable provider of further education.

It’s really a travesty and a social disaster. How can we expect people to find work that they find fulfilling and catalytic of personal growth when they only have one chance to learn a trade, at so young an age that we barely even know what to have on our toast, let alone what we want to do for 55 or so working years? Why are there so few opportunities to branch out and learn new skills, new industries, new career fields? And why do we lament people watching so much TV when there are so few opportunities to spend one’s evenings doing something interesting and productive and educational? Schools of adult education should be as numerous and varied as universities themselves; not everyone wants to do a bachelor’, but if we gave people the chance to do courses in all kinds of vocations and fields, we coukd could create a population of amazing,  endlessly adaptable workers. I would be a web designer, animator, landscape gardener, computer programmer and ceramics artist by now.

As it is,  it looks like I will just have to invest in a few books from the ‘…for Dummies’ series. The sad thing is that I suspect nothing will prevent me from remaining a dummy for life.

*ANNOUNCEMENT* I am getting hundreds of spam comments every week; it’s boring and makes me feel fundamentally unloved. Also, as you may have noticed, I’m feeling a little bit of writer’s block at the moment. THEREFORE I would love it for you guys t get more involved! Comment here, on Facebook, tweet me, let’s network! Anyone who pings me with a question or request will get a whole post written just for them!










Rose T