I entered the University of Calgary in 1968 as a mature student doing English in a B.Ed degree having left school at 15 in Glasgow Scotland.It was a long and tough four years driving taxi at the weekends, getting robbed once and beaten up twice and drinking too much in between the grind of university and part-time work. Being quite uncomfortable with public speaking I went out to the University of Victoria and did my 4th year senior English courses ( modern American and British literature) coming back to do the professional teaching year when I was more ready.
Moving on from teaching junior high English at Victoria and then Branton Junior high schools (hardest work ever),and getting married I went back to the UK, probably to prove I could really do it and did my MA at the University of Sussex in 1977.
This was an incredible experience and I lucked out as the School of Education program under guidance of Dr. Michel Eraut was very flexible, no exams, minimum bullshit but really challenging and perfect for a self-starter who could get out and find schools to do research in. Most of them were pissed off with the university so it was pretty difficult for an outsider. This led my developing academic brain to the world of curriculum development within organizational behaviour and planned change. It had a pass/fail system of grading and two significant projects, An Institutional Profile of a school (Whitehawk Middle School), and a Curriculum Analysis (South Downs High School). The final was a major organizational project (A Case Study of Curriculum Innovation in Scotland). The latter was quite a ‘full circle’ for me as I was researching the four major curriculum centers (English, Social Studies, Modern languages and Science) in the very system that I had hated with a passion as a young schoolboy. At one point when working out of the Social Sciences Center at Jordanhill Teaching College I could look out my window at my old school for which I had developed a very unhealthy loathing for and had left in a foul mood on a pissing wet day at 15 to head for the shipyards.
With my MA completion came my first daughter, born in Glasgow about the same time I got my degree in the mail. Complete with baby, debts, voluminous student loans we came back to Canada in 1978 to a very changed situation and a major recession with hundreds of teachers out of work including myself. It took a few tough years but I developed a behavioural oriented consultancy practice within policing and enjoyed the excitement and motivation of working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other law enforcement organizations for the next decade. My teaching and curriculum research capability was a great asset. During that time I met many police officers who were exceptional people and showed great resilience in very difficult situations. The germ of an idea began to form and I considered writing a book at the time about the “what’s in them” question – why were some so resilient to stress/trauma and adversity.
Family, travel, young kids growing and a full on teaching load put that into the background until many years later, now living in Australia at age 67 (See my Why Now article on this blog) I approached a wonderful friend and academic colleague from teaching MBA organizational behaviour in China with, Dr Steven Segal and it all came together. With his encouragement I applied to do a research PhD at Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) under his supervision. I am now 7 months into a planned five-year part-time doctorate. I even have a business card that says I am a ‘Doctoral Scholar’ not bad for a tearaway kid who left school at 15.
The PhD journey has begun: More later