travel with me from SAHM to working mum….
Four months ago I went back to school. It was a daunting experience, but ultimately challenging and rewarding. Here’s something of what I’ve learnt so far at the London School of Journalism.
I’m sitting in the classroom with fifteen other people. It’s a familiar scene: grey desks, white board, TV on a stand in the corner. I nervously glance around and my fears are confirmed. Everyone looks younger than me. As they introduce themselves it appears they are paradoxically more experienced.
Several months ago I enrolled on a course. It was something I’d been researching for a number of years and I’d finally done it. It was the first day, first lecture and I was already wondering if I’d made a mistake. I felt a fraud. My high-minded idea of starting a second career in my 40s, something to see me through the empty nest and through to the vanishing point of retirement age seemed ridiculous. Here I was, sitting amongst this bunch of 20something student journalists, online interns and radio experts. I sat by the door, ready to make my excuses and leave. Except I’d paid the course fee upfront, in full.
Of course, everybody puts their best face on show when they introduce themselves for the first time. My apologetic explanation that I’d been a teacher, had a career gap to bring up children and got back into writing through a creative writing workshop must have come across as worldly and grown up to the youngsters, instead of the ‘sad out pouring of a housewife’ that it seemed to me.
For the first few lecturers I could barely relax. I felt constantly on my guard, as if I would be found out: my aim of being a writer exposed for the daydream it surely must be. When one of the lecturers discovered that I had kids I thought he was using his constant reference to it as a stick to beat me with when, in fact, any experience a writer has can be turned to good use.
The first assignment had me sweating at the keyboard. A piece of writing about ourselves followed by a news article on a fireman who’d rescued some boys from the river. I trembled when it was handed back. To my amazement I’d done really well. An A. I facebooked my good news on the train on the way home.
Sadly that first paper doesn’t count towards my post-grad diploma, but since then my marks have hovered around the A-/B+ (we won’t dwell on the dreadful C+ my tutor awarded for the front page non splash – well road closures are big news in Godalming!). The plunge I took in coming on the course feels justified, my writing has improved as has my knowledge of areas like media law, social networking and trivia from reading as many as four papers a day.
If you’re thinking about going back to study then I’d recommend it. You may feel that your brain wouldn’t cope. I did a return to teaching course a few years ago, and the jolt to my brain probably helped make this adventure in education slightly easier. It’s important to drink a lot of water, I found. But using your brain makes it more efficient and I’ve discovered, as the course goes on, it’s much easier to concentrate, remember and apply myself.
“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
― Heath L. Buckmaster, Box of Hair: A Fairy Tale