Graduation Day

Well, that’s it. After 5 years I have graduated from the Open University, and it has been one hell of a ride.  I began in earnest in 2011, after deciding that what I really wanted more than anything else was a career in teaching.  The enormous support and encouragement from my husband also helped me keep going, especially in those moments when I was disappointed over a grade, or the workload was battling with other responsibilities (3 kiddos, moving twice etc). I have made more than a few self discoveries about my own abilities. The most important realisation has been that I cannot let others set my horizons for me.  I will no longer allow others to tell me what I am, or am not, capable of before I have even had the chance to try.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t come up against some opposition to both my choice to take an OU degree and my desire to become a teacher. Reasons ranged from, “It’ll be hard” (as if that was ever a good reason not to do something), “but teaching doesn’t pay much” (teaching is a calling, not a money spinner,) and “But it’s not like a real degree from a proper university?” (I have really lost count of how many times I have explained that the OU is a ‘proper’ university, and it’s actually harder to get a passing grade.). Despite this, I think at least in part due to a healthy dose of belligerence and general bloody-minded determination to have my own way, I completed it.   Right, that’s the griping done: I studied, I learned, I gave up sleep and developed a caffeine addiction (okay, MORE of a caffeine addiction).

This morning I woke up with the jitters. I’m talking mutant butterflies here people! The stress of the lying google maps app, which fails to mention road works and sends you on a random route round the diversions, hadn’t helped but we arrived in one piece and on time. Managed to race through check in, explained that we had to bring our 3 year old because the nursery was closed that day due to training, for which they were highly sympathetic and gave us an extra refreshment voucher. Kudos to OU for being family friendly.

Next up was robes, pictures, and yes, more queuing. This is the point where it actually did begin to feel real.  I had done this. Despite kids, and despite life, I had worked my socks off and actually achieved something (big drum roll here), and I wasn’t beating myself up about it.  I deserved to be there. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t cringing for the official photo. If my grandad and parents hadn’t wanted one, I wouldn’t have gone for it. I even managed a smile. (Those who know me, know my feelings about photos of me.  Lets just say I am happier at the other end of the lens).

Being around ‘people’ in large numbers has never been one of my happy places so the prospect of getting on stage in front of a large number of people that I did not know was not an idea I was relishing.  I just fixed my eye on Sean and Henry, and tried to ignore the rest of the audience.  That said, I managed to queue by the stage for my diploma, collect it, cross the stage and get back to my seat without falling on my face/off the stage/both without social anxiety kicking in and freaking out.

The speech form the now honorary doctor of the university, was highly informative and very moving and I encourage you to watch it here. It’s the Birmingham 2016 one but it’s not up just yet. If you follow the comments for this post, I can let you know when its up.

Back with a fresh new look

Yes, I am back and feeling very guilty for neglecting my readers so horrendously.  I promise I will never to it again.  I aim to do a brief weekly post from now on.  I have missed it terribly.  As it turns out, 3 kids and a degree on the go takes up a huge amount of time.  But it will not be long.  I only have 3 more assignments on this module and then one more module to start in October and if I keep my grades up and work my socks of I should be on for a 2:1!

Picking my next BA (honours) History module: Decisions Decisions.

I have a dilemma.  Not so much ethical as practical.

If you do not know the structure of how the Open University works let me elaborate.  Each qualification is divided into a succession of modules which students are free to choose as it suits them.  You do not have to take every module on the list, but the modules required to gain the qualification must total a certain number of credits:  in my case its 360 and the module I am taking will take me a 3rd of the way there.  I’ve been doing fairly well and getting consistent B grades and now I am past the half way point of the module it is time for me to pick the next one.  My snag is that both of the level three modules that interest me are set to end.  That is, they are being taken off the OU syllabus (Oh noes!!!) though they will still apply to the degree for sometime afterwards. I can neither afford both at once (at potentially £700 ea), nor do I have time with 2 small children to care for.

I will have to choose one if I want to do either of them, whether through personal interest or through practical purposes and I have to choose and register from 27th March.  There is an option to pre-register and save a space but I only want to do that if I’m sure about taking that module.  It would not be fair of me to hold a space on a course I won’t be taking.

Pros and Cons

The first one to be on the dead-list is ‘Religion in History‘.  The last start date is 1 September 2012 and will give me a very welcome 2 and a half month break from a rather gruelling schedule of study, housework and other obligations.  It overlaps the module I am taking nicely and is of greater personal interest than the other module.  I’m not sure how this one will serve my ambition to become a teacher but I do feel it is an important aspect of social history and should be covered in some specific detail as a part of my final degree qualification.  It would also be incredibly useful when it comes to my blog and my involvement of the UAF.

The second, ‘Total War and Social Change 1914-1955‘ has an execution date set for 2 February 2013.  This has a much longer gap between the finish of my current module in June this year.  I’m anxious about leaving this long a gap between modules especially for a Level 3 module.  It follows on nicely from my current the course description and the content sounds extremely interesting.  On the downside, t seems to consist of a more rigorous and detailed training in critical analysis of historical sources.  While this training is invaluable, there are other modules which do this just as well, so I don’t feel that is the best reason to choose it over the other.

I’ve not Forgotten you, Readers.


The last few weeks have been a bit hectic with ante-natal appointments, planning the first holiday we’ll have had since 2008, and a new Open university module i have been trying to get ahead on before I go away.

I will try to get another post done in the next few days.