Monday, 19 August 2013

Question 11a: What would you like to study if you had the chance?

Back to school. A banner that is to be seen in every shop at the moment. However there are still a couple of weeks until the university courses start. There were only 4 of the 30 people I stayed with who had NOT studied at university. (2 in England and 2 in Sweden). A majority had done a degree, a few had studied short courses. Even though most participants had studied before, I asked what they would like to study now if they had the chance.
What people in England would like to study:
MA in art
Critical theories
PhD about the truth in poetry or comedy or both, comparing it
Creative writing
Learn to fly a plane or mathematics or "gaming physics"
MA in art history
Ethnology, oral history, looking at history within different cultures and communities
PhD in creative writing, learn Russian
Music and language, pick three instruments and learn to play them properly
Therapeutic writing

What people in Sweden would like to study:
National economics
History and religion
Something to do with music
"The Author school"
Study a specific author
Queer theories
Something within visual arts or photography or gold- or silversmith or something with textiles 
A design degree
Something within the worker's union and the political
"The Author school", publishing, literature history
Latin, political science, quantum physics, astronomy, more art
Money matters
Most of the people who had studied, no matter the country, were happy or very happy with their university education. I followed people to uni in both England and Sweden and can't say that I experienced any massive differences in the lecture halls. But if you look deeper there are a lot of differences. in Sweden all education at university is free. In England it could cost as much as £9000 per year. And that's one reason I'm in Sweden right now.
"Become something"
Inspired by the people I stayed with, I've decided to give the foundation course in ethnology a go, a course that a couple of the participants in Sweden had studied and found rewarding. And what do you become then? I hate that question. (And in my experience, talking to friends and people in pubs, Swedish people seem more obsessed about "becoming something" and sticking to it than English people do.)  
There were a lot of the people who had studied who did NOT work within the field they had studied, but yet they had learnt something and developed as human beings, gained knowledge that had shaped them to the people they are today. If it costs £9000 there might be more pressure to "become something", but whatever you study I think it makes you stronger as a person and if you become stronger it's more likely that you'll find something to work with. At least ethnology will inspire my writing in all genres. But if I had the chance I'd also like to learn how to sing!
Before I was quite anti studying and have had a romantic view of being self-taught, but thanks to the Swenglish project, I realised that the academic world wasn't as difficult and intimidating as I thought it would be. But I'm not saying that everyone has to study. There are alternatives. In Sweden there's something called folkhögskola ("folk high school") where you can learn things in a more organic way without getting any grades or tests, more evening class style. I was very fed up with school when I was 19, but I did two "folk high school" courses (one term English in Portslade, Brighton and three terms writing workshop in Stockholm). It didn't feel like studying at all, I just had fun. In general I think there should be more work experience as part of any education and more collaborations with "the real world".
The picture is from Halmstad when I followed a person who studied bio medicine with focus on physical exercise.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What do you think of the education system?


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