Monday, 28 September 2009

Busy Day

Spent the morning in a lecture about Media Law. Quite scary when libel payouts were being discussed. This afternoon was Principles and Practices of Magazine Journalism. The reading list is huge! Ordered some from Amazon and reserved the rest from the Library. Discovered that there is no Union Bar at the St.Peter Campus but there are a couple of pubs in walking distance. I thought journalists were a hard drinking lot but obviously not! Maybe they just need to warm up a bit. Handed in my first "think piece" and will be discussing it tomorrow. It was about achievement versus effort in Higher education. "Males more optimistic, but to their detriment” makes a good headline but the team from University of Wales Institute leave a hole, big enough to drive the metaphorical bus through, when they declare their findings are based upon a sample of 112 psychology students. It is difficult to see how these can be seen as a representative group from which to draw general conclusions.

If the issue is one primarily of self belief then the environment in which the students grew up, their aims and aspirations would be significant factors in the results obtained by the study. The males in the study having a greater belief in their own abilities than their achievements apparently seem to justify. The female students appear to accept they needed to work harder just to achieve the same level of results. Psychology is fast becoming one of the most popular undergraduate degrees according to the UK Careers Advice Website. It is attracting a higher number of students who have no clear idea of where their future career will take them. The level of vocational motivation in such students would understandably be much lower than in students studying Medicine, Engineering or Teaching.

Speaking as one of the new middle class and a father of two teenaged children, both currently studying for higher qualifications, I can say that my daughter works harder, is more focused and more determined than my son. However, that has been the case since they were young children. My daughter was a first grandchild for both mine and my wife’s family. My son was the third grandchild, but critically the first grandson. The way in which the working class grandparents reacted to them was very different.

As the oldest grandchild, my daughter was always encouraged to excel. As the oldest grandson, my son was always expected to excel. A critical difference.

It would be a much more significant finding if the research were repeated and the same results obtained using students from different social backgrounds and on a range of vocational courses. Drawing general conclusions from such a narrow sample cannot be either statistically or socially valid.

Anyway, shorthand starts next week as well. 100words per minute! not as easy as it sounds. Booked tickets for Al Murray on 8th October and Jimmy Carr on 17th January. Well if I'm in Sunderland I might as well make the most of it! NCTJ Exams on December 10th for Court Reporting and January 14th for General Reporting, plus 3,000 word assignment to be handed in before Christmas. I think I'm going to be a busy boy!

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