Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: The Up Front Guide to Parenting

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  • 3410,

    Then we'll see whose laughing.

    As an Arts student, I must say that I'm laughing right now ! ;)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    The world needs more philosophical tech writers.

    I got my MA in Philosophy (thesis focussed on meta-ethics) a decade ago, and I've been a tech writer ever since. The clustering of philosophy-degreed TWs around here is interesting: I've never actually met another TW with a philosophy degree (we mainly seem to be disillusioned ex-teachers).

    And a philosophy degree doesn't make you unemployable. After about five years in the workforce, who cares what your degree was? And for those first five years, having an odd degree can help you get interviews. Or at least, that was my experience.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Using the Don Brash definition of prejudice to say this:

    I go out with a gaysian engineer, so I can't be prejudiced against any of those groups. That said, first year engineering students are the scariest group of 18 year olds I've ever come across. It terrifies me that they'll be building bridges and running power plants some time :P.

    And may I suggest a Masters in Law - a year of (semi) idleness, the ability to research interesting things, and to go back to a job afterwards. Was the most fun I had in years.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 270 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Without anyone looking over their shoulders, they spent at least a year falling down, throwing up, and smashing letterboxes. Any course-work handed in would be done in a blaze of panic; a couple of hastily-typed pages thrown together and sprinted across campus to be flung in a submissions box seconds before the deadline.

    Though to be fair this was mainly because of the (mainly) unfettered access to alcohol and girls who would actually talk to me...um... I mean, this guy I knew

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Without anyone looking over their shoulders, they spent at least a year falling down, throwing up, and smashing letterboxes.

    Substitute "propositioning the hostess" for "throwing up" and this is uncannily like the night 25 years ago when I got your brother into a toney New Year's Eve party in Sumner. Spooky, really ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18881 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Substitute "propositioning the hostess" for "throwing up" and this is uncannily like the night 25 years ago when I got your brother into a toney New Year's Eve party in Sumner. Spooky, really ...

    Yeah, see? I blame the parents.

    Hi Mum!

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4366 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    And a philosophy degree doesn't make you unemployable. After about five years in the workforce, who cares what your degree was? And for those first five years, having an odd degree can help you get interviews. Or at least, that was my experience.

    Mine too - in an interview for my first job, the manager interviewing me basically said "an MA, eh? That means you can write and you can stick with something - just what we're looking for." I've found the practical skills you get from a Philosophy degree (e.g. critical analysis, organising information, rendering complex ideas explainable) to be very useful in my professional life.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Lara,

    Great post Emma. I'm in the last year of a history/political science degree in CHCH. Was going to be just a history degree but did Islamic politics as a first year paper and now am aiming to do POLS with honours next year....after that goodness knows.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2009 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    I studied Pure Maths. How pure? We looked down on group theory, because it had practical applications in quantum mechanics: too much like getting one's hands dirty. We literally looked down on engineering students, since they spent most of their time down by the riverbank below the Maths building experimenting in fluid dynamics. The "fluids" in question were primarily beer and its bodily byproducts.

    Within about a year of leaving varsity (and by the way, when the hell did we start calling it "uni"?) I could no longer explain the difference between different kinds of infinity or prove the irrationality of pi, and I couldn't save a partial differential equation to save my life. Yet I think there's something in a mathematical education, and the understanding of structure and pattern that goes with it, that has contributed to all of my subsequent careers in meteorology, web design, animation, literary criticism, data visualisation, cartography and urban design.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    As a former engineering student from the Other Engineering University I have to say I resemble those remarks.

    I blame the parents too, with my upbringing how was I to know the proportion of rum to coke was supposed to be 1:5 not 5:1?

    In my defense, I did non engineering stuff like reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in my spare time - I think I should shut up now.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 195 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Mine too - in an interview for my first job, the manager interviewing me basically said "an MA, eh? That means you can write and you can stick with something - just what we're looking for."

    Indeed. Though I should say that I've also found out, retrospectively, that in two of my previous jobs I was hired on the basis that "he seems to know what he's talking about, and his appearance is going to make our manager shit bricks."

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    After about five years in the workforce, who cares what your degree was?

    God, I wish that someone was giving this as career advice in high school. And university. I'm so very tired of the bizarre idea that the topic you study at university should somehow be related to an intended career. It's been the death of the humanities.

    I almost took first year chemistry, but realised their weren't going to be many explosions, so I took NZ Lit and german language instead, and then stumbled into anthropology (although to be fair, my intended major stayed intact).

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 689 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Prosser,

    Auckland Uni's ploy of whipping up middle class hysteria via the scarcity of educational resources is a coup of marketting.

    I think the "limit" I saw for one course was 150% the current enrolment! It's all about the marketing.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2008 • 225 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    AMST106 was my gateway to complete unemployability (though with English, History and Classics as my other subjects I didn't really have far to fall).

    I remember my stupid plunket-sponsored coffee group where everyone was discussing how to get their (under one-year-old firstborn children) into "good schools" so they could get "good degrees" and therefore well-paid jobs and being looked at like I was the prophet of Satan when I said I'd rather my kid just found the thing that made him happy.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    That said, first year engineering students are the scariest group of 18 year olds I've ever come across. It terrifies me that they'll be building bridges and running power plants some time :P.

    Actually, many of them won't, because they are required to fail about half of them. Or they did: take-up of engineering has dropped to the point where they have started to lower the entrance standards to second year. Be Very Afraid.

    I did that! Retained facts: Charlemagne was really, really tall.

    I was fortunate enough to do it the year Kingdom of Heaven came out, so we got the Official Geoff Rice Sporking for about ten minutes in class during the Crusades section. Not that he would call it sporking, but it so was.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I'm just about to complete a Masters in Unemployability (History)

    George, I'd like to be the first to welcome you to librarianship (me) or high school teaching (my husband). Still, in our household we know a shitload about contraceptives in New Zealand (me) and Joan of Arc imagery in Vichy France (him), so I suppose that's got to come in handy sometime.

    Sigh.

    (Then again, I'm basing this on our mediocrity. For all I know you could wind up being like Jake, globetrotting and publishing articles in the NZJH and whatnot! So don't be discouraged. And actually, I don't even work as a librarian at the moment. I do Waitangi research for a law firm. So perhaps there is hope after all, and I should just shut up.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3655 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    I left varsity at the arse-end of '76 with a zoology degree & post-grad diploma and have never used them. Went travelling, etc and I think, as someone already mentioned, the fact that i had a degree & could stick with something probably helped get a job at some stage, but I've been a code-monkey for some time now and it looks increasingly like my zoology will remain an 'interest'.

    Funnily enough, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 572 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    And a philosophy degree doesn't make you unemployable.

    The first job I got in London back when I did my OE was in the Auditing R&D department for KPMG. I'd studied auditing at varsity, so was quite surprised to find that nobody in the department had a commerce degree. Mostly it was lit or philosophy. Seemed that in the UK you studied whatever you wanted - achieving a degree was the important thing - and your employer would retrain you as necessary.

    Right on, Emma, about the need to think these things through. First though, have got to solve the puzzle of which high school our daughter will go to. The choice is between Auckland Girls, Western Springs and Mt Albert Grammar. Probably not Mt Albert Grammar, though, that school is so Decile 1. They don't even have the resources to build a wharenui...

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 455 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Also, under no circumstances do you want them having sex.

    A very popular gender-specific New Zealand child-raising manual with a poorly-hidden social conservative agenda has a lot of advice on this subject. It includes the firm injunction, amongst a lot of other fluffy feel-good platitudes, not to enable teenage sex.

    I'm not too wound up about the instructions for getting into university. It's the stuff that educated middle class parents have known for years anyway, and it could be really useful to families pulling themselves up by their bootstraps who don't have that social capital. It's not like 15-18 year olds are all that well set up to decide how best to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a variety of tertiary training options.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 811 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Funnily enough, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

    Heavily tattooed, for me.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    My parents, being Scots, believe very strongly in the value of a good education. And so, now, do I. But that's where it ends. The value is in being educated...that's it. Careers are for chokers and cowards.

    What I am grateful to the olds for is the fact that even when I failed to qualify for a university education at the age of 18 they manage to set aside judgement. And I am sure they love me to this day :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    how to get their (under one-year-old firstborn children) into "good schools" so they could get "good degrees" and therefore well-paid jobs and being looked at like I was the prophet of Satan when I said I'd rather my kid just found the thing that made him happy

    I've had some fairly interesting conversations with people who couldn't understand why I'd send my daughter to the local decile 7 school, when there's a decile 8 school only a kilometre further away. "Because we can walk to it more easily and her friends go there" isn't what Good Parents do, apparently.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    After about five years in the workforce, who cares what your degree was?

    ...and staying on the 'bagging the engineers' tip, a thought experiment:

    You are flying over the pacific to attend a prestigious international conference on, oh, lets say 'Joan of Arc imagery in Vichy France'.

    Who would you have preferred to have designed the plane you are flying in?

    1) A 5-year engineering graduate who has specialist training in material composition, stress analysis, fracture mechanics and so on.

    2) A 5-year arts grad who thinks square windows look better than ones with rounded corners.

    Answer carefully, or I will unleash my army of giant robots.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2396 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Thanks Emma for re-posting this article.

    Ever since the Listener put up that pay-wall it's been a painful wait (since you can't simply pop down to New World and buy it in Canberra).

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    George, I'd like to be the first to welcome you to librarianship (me) or high school teaching (my husband).

    Since it's the fairly recent history of our neighbour Indonesia, I'm posing for the employers as an expert in other fields which are marginally more employable.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

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