The work force all over the world is composed of different people. The work environment is constantly going through changes. As a result of the changes, new roles are constantly showing up hence the need for the workers to be aptly trained to adapt to the changes. For instance, in the banking sector, the money transactions that are carried out have changed over the past few years. People can now access their money online; they can withdraw or deposit the money via automated teller machines and the like. It therefore becomes necessary for workers in the banking sector to keep up with the changes by undergoing the necessary training. The competition for jobs is also getting tougher. Women have been empowered thus can equally compete for opportunities with the men. The face of the market place is no longer comprised of a few individuals doing the same thing over and over again. It is now comprised of individuals who are always on the move. In Western societies the individualistic culture pushes a lot of the mature work force beck into school. It is no longer fashionable to work for years having acquired a diploma or a certificate. The pressure to prove that one is smart and capable demands that each person upgrades their current education level to a higher level. Society rewards personal achievements. Society also views having a lower level of education as failure thus making it difficult for the mature people in the work place to be promoted. The desire to prove otherwise thus makes the mature individuals go back to school so that they can fit in at the work place. They also tend to blame themselves for how things turned out in their life thus they are take it upon themselves to prove otherwise.
My decision to go back to school has been shaped by several factors. Part of the reason for going back to school was that there are greater opportunities available once one acquires a greater level of training. However in spite of the various reasons, there is still a diverse range of experiences that I have gone through each time I have gone back to school. Each of these experiences is unique and coupled to the experiences at the work place due to my level of education they have been a motivation to press on in my pursuit. This paper analyzes the role of my pursuit of education in attaining my aspirations and the factors that shaped my decision to go back for training in the course of my career.
2.0 Learner identity
Being a mature learner has presented a few challenges to my learning experiences. Initially when I went back to college, I was pushed to go back in order to secure better job than the various odd ones that I had been doing prior to going back to school. I did not have an opportunity to finish my course as the demands and the pressures of meeting my daily needs dictated that I had to continue working in order to sustain myself. The school system in Australia was accommodating to some extent since the pursuit of a course in electronics was still possible in spite the fact that I was a bit mature now.
However the expanding school system in Australia means that less attention I directed towards ensuring that learners such as me are able to go through the course successfully. Since the 1980’s there has been a shift in the education system where by the students are merely viewed as consumers. The expansion has made room for more institutions to be available for young and old people to pursue their education. The growing numbers of working class people pursuing their education just like I did means that there is cultural subordination .According to researchers, the working class individuals who have gone back to school are a segregated lot. There is little or no room to accommodate them since they face the challenge of doing both their job and performing well in their studies.
It has also been argued that the politics of redistribution has been a factor that has driven a large number of working class individuals back to school. For me, doing odd jobs meant that my pay was always low. It therefore became natural to seek an opportunity to earn better wages by acquiring an education hence the pursuit of the course in electronics. The gap between the rich and poor has been growing wider over the years in most Western societies. This means that the perception of success or failure is continually being changed in society. There is a general understanding that as a result of the individualistic view, material success or failure is as a result of individual effort. It therefore follows that I had to invest some effort in order to succeed in life.
The lack of college education had an impact on my identity. It was difficult to fit in particularly in a working environment where almost everyone seemed to have better qualifications. The acquisition of training was also an attempt to fit in better in the working environment. This was particularly applicable for the first course that I took in electronics. There was a sense of authenticity that I had as a result of pursuing the course. The feelings of being an imposter ever was a constant companion before I went back to school.
However researchers argue that the feeling of authenticity has been associated with different aspects. It has been argued that while in the past, authenticity was often attributed to being a part of the working class. The `working classes of the 50s and 60s have become irrelevant to the agenda. For these individuals, education offers solace, a place where most of them can fit in.
3.0 Factors that shaped the decision to stay or leave school
In the course of my pursuit I have had to leave school at some point. As I was pursuing my course in electronics at Tech College (TAFE), I got a job at a telecom company where I worked for three years. The opportunity to work at a telecom company was much better than all the odd jobs that I had been doing prior to that time. As Herbert Spencer puts it, ‘survival is for the fittest’, I had to survive through the harsh realities of everyday life while adapting to the changes in my work environment. It became increasingly strenuous with time hence I opted to pursue the job and let the studies take a back seat for a while.
This decision seemed fit at that time but like every other human being, I had aspirations to go up the ladder at my work place. This was impossible given my level of education. I therefore decided to sign up for an associate diploma in electronics at a local university. This would increase my chances of getting promoted at work. This follows the research that shows that society in recent years respects individual effort and recognizes individuals who put more effort towards improving their lives.
Just like other working individuals, I discovered that there is a huge disconnect between the acquisition of education and its application in the job market. My acquisition of a diploma in electronics did not help me acquire the much needed promotion in the job market. The university system also serves as means of stratification once one lands in the job market. The person with a university degree often has better job opportunities that one with an associate diploma. This discovery was disheartening since I now had to settle for what I previously had. The ambivalence in western societies when it comes to acquisition of credentials for working individuals is a result of contradictions. There are two sides of the coin: there is the desire for acquisition of material benefits but on the other end, the increase in credentials has resulted in alienation, cultural losses and subordination.
For years I let my pursuit of education lay to rest then finally I decided to give it another attempt. I went back to school and got a TESOL Cert III and used it to go to China to teach English. This was a much needed change in my career hence I aggressively looked for opportunities to opportunities to teach. The opportunities I had were limited due to the fact that I did not possess a degree. I therefore decided to go back to Australia and pursue a degree that would enable me to teach English in China. The opportunities I will have upon completion of my degree are immense thus immersing myself in my studies is a worthwhile pursuit.
My perception of the opportunities that were available for me was based on the level of education I had and the kind of money I wanted to earn at any given point. When I started out, I used to do odd jobs and did not have a diploma or a degree. There were few places I could work at and earn a good salary. However once I enrolled in school, I could now work at a telecom firm which was much better than my former odd jobs.
4.0 Future aspirations
At 52 I have no plans of furthering my formal education but will continue to learn more through reading and research as I have always done to keep abreast with the growing body of knowledge and sharpen my teaching skills. I hope to return to China to teach because the conditions for foreign teachers are more favorable and the cost of leaving is relatively lower. However I may also teach in Australia in many subjects such as German, English, Mathematics and physics.
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