How do most people get through life? By imitation to learn and dependency. Even when we think we’re being original and independent we’re not really; we’ve been inspired, had influences and sometimes help. ‘No man is an island’. That said it’s not in the spirit of cooperation, peace, love and happiness. After we’ve learned via imitation and maybe racking some brain cells to put our own stamp on ‘it’ some of us question, some keep evaluating whether for the pursuit of ‘perfection’ or just because we like to improve/change. Some of us though just copy and bluff. I was told a few times by people from our ‘greaters and betters’ that bluffing is very important and that if you don’t know something, bluff. I generally gave no answer and just got on with what I was doing.
I recently found it ironic how a template of something I’d made was badly chopped and hastily put back together only then to be offered to someone I know as a job offer. The person the offer was made to was not qualified for it and it wasn’t in their field. 🙄 It’s bad enough people copy what you do, consistently, and some even blockade your efforts so they can get ‘in there’ first and make it seem like you’re the copier. 🙄 It’s also amazing how many successful people can feel self-satisifed yet maintain their success by such means. I guess it doesn’t matter as long as you’re a favourite and have enough money & ‘stuff’ to validate your position.
It starts early though, how many had a nasty surprise in school when they found out that the work (even competition entries) they submitted was property of said educational institution and not the student? I remember when Channel 5 launched and their style of news program revolutionised news presentation and aspects quickly imitated/incorporated onto other channels, even the presenters were scooped up. I wonder how many people’s coursework/exam entries went into that, it was funny how one of the questions we received in Media Studies beforehand was how to upgrade tv news. I saw all of my ideas staring me in the face but the perching on the desk was somebody else’s idea, maybe the presenters just weren’t fit enough to stand for a few minutes! When Mum was in college she did a project on a new food snack and lo and behold shortly after there it was marketed as a new product for a major brand – the design, shape, size were the same, the name was different but of the same theme. Just two examples and of course we’re not the only ones. It’s a ‘catch 22’ – if you want decent grades you have to do the minimum work but there’s so much copying as it is and all the easier with the internet (I used to debate online and someone re-wrote my posts as their university essay and thanked me afterwards!). Don’t submit your best work/ideas unless the establishment is paying/crediting you for it and you know where you stand; compulsory education is an obligation/duress/privilege/right don’t add a facade of giving your ideas away to it and keep your originals (seems obvious now but using a computer wasn’t always standard)! Sometimes and depending on the subject, like Art, they’ll let you have your work back (after it’s been messed up by ‘accident’) within a certain timeframe – not everyone is unscrupulous, all of the time – I drew Arnold Schwarzenegger with his skin turning into snake scales for an exam where the theme was ‘Metamorphosis’ and I haven’t seen him do that in a movie yet, though I may just have missed it 😉
Whilst we’re on the topic of schools and teachers – don’t you find it annoying when you’d been hoping/waiting for something and it changes just as you get there? I wanted to do Electronics as a GCSE, the school had offered it for years but apparently I was the only one who wanted to do it that year so it was cancelled. I had to do a filler subject instead and I call it that because it really was a dossing class that didn’t teach us anything we didn’t know/couldn’t do already 🙄 My favourite subjects as a kid were pretty typical – Paleontology, Astronomy and Maths but after that phase Physics was my best and favourite subject. Had a knack for it like I did languages earlier on (could understand people in different languages but unable to answer in their tongue so responded in English – the knack left with lack of practise. Abit like the Music teacher realizing I could play the violin without previous lessons or a background/home environment with classical music. That died though when classmates broke the violin and I left.) The strange thing was I had been really good at Maths but later on I just couldn’t learn it anymore, except from two people. If they showed me how to do it, it was easy peasy but from anybody else? Nope. I didn’t know why I couldn’t do Maths anymore (especially Pure) since I liked languages and especially because I never failed to get top grades in Physics (for some reason Mechanics wasn’t a problem in Physics but doing it by itself as Maths didn’t work either). I started to realize that I couldn’t really take in things that are not correct if they’re taught as true, if they’re taught as theory or even lies that’s ok but I had no patience with things that ‘didn’t make sense’ but are supposed to be real. Chemistry became another problem, I should have learned from all the students who intentionally switched to the other Chemistry teacher or changed location altogether. It started off well but for some reason when asking the class for answers he’d choose me more than the rest, some students and I asked him about it but he denied knowledge of doing it. Then he accused me and another student of copying each other. The ‘funny’ thing was his claim was about a team practical so everybody had split into groups and the girl I’d been accused of cheating with wasn’t in the same group as me! We weren’t even next to each other. All groups had varying results to write about and of course they discussed them with their partners during and after. He stuck to his nonsense though and we finally had to complain, only after that did he agree to raise the marks by one grade ‘because we’d complained’ rather than because he was wrong. I had been doing well until then but it went downhill from there. My work in Physics remained consistently good (and enjoyable) until one day when the other girls weren’t in (there’d been 4 in the class to start, whittled down to 1 by the end) and we had an impromptu test, for some reason the teacher (who spent far too much time in the closet getting ruffled with the teacher from the class below) gave me a different test to everybody else. Highly embarrassing when it became obvious that I wasn’t doing what the other students were doing. He still didn’t give me the right one though so I finished it and it was never mentioned again, we didn’t get them back. Shortly afterwards came exams – and until this place I’d never failed anything school related in my life, I was always on top and winning (lol the irony to my adult life) – and Physics was the one I was sure about. Despite my record I’d never been confident before/after exams but for once I knew I’d done well, I’d missed nothing out and there hadn’t been anything that stumped… Except the grade. One of the best in the class to the lowest mark possible. How was that possible!?! The teacher refused to speak to me after that, the Chemistry teacher spoke on his behalf, arranged my removal from the class and I couldn’t see my paper or go over it with anyone.
Reminds me a bit of an entrance exam for a private school I took, passed the interview replete with metaphysical philosophical questions about light & dark, poverty, depression and death with flying colours. Got to the day – a whole day of different exams which I’d been preparing for well in advance – and yes I stood out like a sore thumb, the only Brown kid and obviously in second hand but carefully altered clothing – things were going well even if the others wouldn’t speak to me in breaks until the teacher did something strange. During one test she stopped at my desk and left a stack of papers on it. Being brought up with good manners (and posture) seriously drummed into me I dutifully got up and gave them to her… And she got angry. She told me to get back in my seat whilst she huffed and puffed and that was the end of my chance there. I’ll have you know I didn’t look at those papers, they could have been blank sheets.
One thing I dislike about teachers is how they can tell you what grade you’ll get before the exams, I understand that they think they’ve ‘seen it all before’ and can estimate patterns plus having awareness of your classwork and possibly records but it annoys me when they tell you ‘you’ll get a…’ ‘You’ll be good for a…’ Etc. Even when it’s a good grade. Even when you decide that grade isn’t enough and so push yourself for better and surprise yourself at how much more you managed to achieve than usual and then you still get the predicted grade/range in the grade. 🙄 Reminds me of a legal course I did where I was told my work was ‘too high level’ i.e. above my station and so she said she’d marked me down two grades and refused to talk about it, literally looking past my face and ignoring me whilst talking to everyone else who wanted to.
University was something I’d been eagerly awaiting. I’d decided on a place that was apparently one of the firsts in admitting women and ‘coloureds’ and had a syllabus I was interested in. Sadly the year I started was the year they decided to change directors of that subject, the whole course changed and apparently British students weren’t allowed to work in Egypt anymore either, and it turned out that the female lecturers were getting paid 30% less on average than their male counterparts. Someone stuck up a league table of university fe/male lecturer pay and it didn’t look good. Add to that the last minute notification of an introductory field course for the first years with an eye watering list of equipment to buy and the laughable list of recommended shops to get them from (the priciest ones you can think of before you get to the posh department stores) and the £200 fine for vandalising library books brought wholesale to us courtesy of the Law students. It wasn’t a great start. Yes I have known numerous Law students and being greedy bastards about their source material was not uncommon, it was well known that they’d deface, rip out pages or remove books altogether after they’d personally used them so that their co-students wouldn’t have easy access. Why were the rest of us being punished for penciling in things and then erasing them? And how could we afford £200 for a pencil anyway, not much of a deterrent really. Let’s not get onto the Medical students who in general are best kept away from the rest of us (and they know it).
My knack for languages came in handy for the Middle Egyptian [written] Language class as the lecturer was as boring as dishwater and the fluorescent lights bouncing of the whiteboard induced headaches and low energy, I also found his teaching of the language confusing. So Mum, who’d been getting me university level books since I was 11-12 (I wish I’d been home schooled), decided to go one better and find specialist ‘dictionaries’. The thing is they weren’t designed for students, they were designed as a reference for people who already knew what they were looking for – so unlike the recommended books and tutorial sheets the other students were using where they could search in the English and get the Egyptian my two tomes barely had any English in them. You had to find the pictogram you wanted first to get the translation (like any language you get ‘words’ that can have multiple meanings depending on context but the structure of those words don’t have to look or sound alike; the opposite is also true where you have similar looking/sounds ‘words’ that have different meanings) and there was no search method outlined but yes I found I really liked those books. I didn’t have to put images together to make the words and hunt for them – I just knew where to look. The problem was I couldn’t reconcile that ‘knowing’ with what the teacher was saying, even though I’d have the same answers, but he who sets the questions and marks/grades (regardless of whether they’re supposed to be sent elsewhere to be marked for ‘neutrality’) has the last word especially when they’re taught/think in mutually agreed peer [pressured] circles.
Unfortunately like most people I forget things I learned in schools quickly without practise, plus I’m not always able to show that I can do/know something as well as someone else. However those days of actually being able are probably long gone lol!
Then there was a course which I’d been misled into thinking was computing but it turned out to be IT and software admin rather than the hardware. I was against it from the start but learning that it was IT added to it, also there was no refund after something really short like a few weeks instead of proportionate money back depending on terms but I didn’t have any leeway. Then the college went bust before I could do the exams and I was on the road to getting a small refund given to those who got full marks. They were taking students right up until the last even though they knew they were going insolvent.
The Telegraph newspaper recently printed that libraries have had £14million less from the Tory government. I’ve seen a many libraries revamped into chic, airy, attractive buildings with more computers and wi-fi. Back when I used to half live in libraries there were more books because the aisles were much narrower, I don’t mind wider lanes and think they should definitely be accessibility friendly but there is such a thing as too much space and bright colours. Hanging out in libraries is fine and I believe they should be social hubs for everybody from the homeless to students to people just wanting to use the bathroom (if there is any), they should be comfortable havens where people can relax and learn and yes even talk quietly (thankfully shushing isn’t a big, awkward thing anymore 🙂 ). In smaller, packed libraries I have run out of books in sections I liked but that was before they started circulating them. When I visit the local nowadays there’s always something different and the librarians seem to have become psychic and displaying books I ‘need’ to read in tandem with what’s going on with my life (no I’m not often a bestseller reader, unless you count classics, nor kept track of the latest books – the books they’ve been displaying which I find hard to miss let alone walk past now tend to be a little older and niche). Have I noticed more or less books? I’ve noticed less in the bigger libraries but that would suggest a surplus to be redistributed and with smaller libraries closing then the book cases should be longer and taller (if not wider) no? But they’re not. Hmm.
Similar to the ‘upgrading’ of jobcentres oh excuse me Jobcentre Plus’; seriously do they need to look so plush and fashionable, the smell of new paint, ever increasing and unreliable new technological means of signing on and job hunting? Ok so it wouldn’t be fair to make them look like shit holes where people are already going to be treated like shit let alone have to look at depressing, decaying interiors but why is it that people can’t go in an make appointments anymore? (The first time I went into one was as a secondary school student only to be told ‘you can’t find a job here, this is for…’) They have to go online first, then get an appointment for which they need a mobile phone to be notified, plus they have to register on a site called Universal Jobmatch which was just a big waste of money that they now force people to use as a diary to try and make it seem essential/helpful. It’s an aggregated site that doesn’t have as much content as major jobsearch sites, most of the adverts that are visible redirect to other sites, some of which don’t exist and its not exactly user friendly. So akin to the consumer advice site that was a major embarrassment for the government which MoneySavingExpert and other reputable financial info sites reported on this one’s only excuse is that ‘it doesn’t waste paper’ (yet they issue handbooks/physical diaries, appointment date notes, endless letters et al) but it does waste time, effort and you have to be able to use the internet regularly. Additionally who thought of calling sign-on staff ‘workcoaches’ and the people signing on ‘clients/customers’? Reminiscent of a ‘training course’ where the ‘advisors’ repeatedly told people they had access to ‘80% of the hidden job market’ but never once explained it and expected people to job hunt in the usual ways. There’s a lot of hatred and distrust towards people looking for work, people who are on Jobseeker’s Allowance, people who receive Housing Benefit etc; try looking let alone being able to move residence when in any of those categories and see how landlords view you as [potential] scum. But then landlords are getting pickier and pickier these days with many advertising in a way that a parent would oversee children in their own home or those nagging/restrictive boarding house owners you see in old films, heck disallowing children is getting more popular on the lists of ‘no this, that and the other accepted’ heck even when they say ‘this and this welcome’ and you actually get a reply it usually involves more criteria that wasn’t previously mentioned. Maybe some of that suspicion and dissatisfaction should be aimed at the people who spend far too much time in committees and not knowing what it’s like to be one of the people whose lives they organize.
Also whoever decided that apprenticeships should be less about on-the-job training and more about stealing the youth from youths sealing them in extended courses upped from 1-2 to 3-4 years on less than or at minimum wage hence narrowing and preventing their job prospects & elongating the climb to higher pay whilst milking them for all their worth – needs a reckoning. Why don’t you just go back to ye olde days and make them into lifelong servants of their craft masters waiting on dead men’s shoes for a promotion just so that they can then dish out what they had to go through to somebody else like an entitlement/rite of passage. Is it any wonder that employers ask for far too much experience and seem to expect people to stay in the same line of work for ages? Even if it’s cleaning for example or working in a library, filing/archiving or reception oh sorry receptionists have to be specific darling – we’ll only even consider glancing at you if you’ve worked in hospitality for this long with that particular system using this switchboard, in fine hotels, and you look like a model or at least flawlessly corporate. Why, because it’s that hard to have to a job handover/training? It doesn’t take long and isn’t hard to teach someone something mundane and non-complex that they’ll be doing frequently, especially if it’s been written down as a procedure. So many people I’ve come across act like they’re the bees knees and should be above you because they can do a calculation or macro on Excel. 🙄 It’s not f*cking hard to show somebody and you don’t have to go through a rigmarole of ‘official training’, there’s a lot of skills that don’t necessitate hiring a contractor or constant supervision, it doesn’t have to be an expensive/tiresome chore but it does have to be done; you can’t expect everybody to know how you want things done and every possible deviance but demanding instead that they know the job inside out beforehand and to hit the ground running is elitist. Yes elitism and snobbery exists on every level about everything. Remove the pomp and ceremony, we’d have a lot less management. The longer job titles given to ‘appease’ people were probably intended to make them believe that their job was/is special and only they or those like them can do it, in turn those above them whose titles are equally unnecessary then seem more competent because their job description precedes them. How many job titles do you find you can’t tell what they entail upon hearing but later realize are just glorified for positions you do recognize?
To end on a metaphorical note – what’s keeping this boat afloat, be it the raft of humanity who are generally uncomfortable with nature and seem to be living off more polluted air which we can’t decide is hot or cold, or this planet aka a ship sailing through space?
The sign on the right says: THE SNAG THAT SANK THE GREAT WHITE ARABIA