Monday, March 12, 2012

You are what you say you are

By Pamela Moeng

I had a great three-day weekend - I took a day's leave on Friday. After doing the weekly laundry because the helper's son was paying lobola and couldn't come, I met a good friend for cake and coffee.

During the non-stop conversation, talk turned to what to do after retirement because obviously most of the people I know can't afford to ever stop working. (I predict that I'll still be clinging to my netbook and typing away as the undertaker tries to close the lid on my coffin. And those fingers will by gnarled as I have no intention of climbing into the box until I'm 130, the good Lord willing and the creek doesn't rise.)

My friend said something intriguing when I asked what qualifies a person to do a particular job. She said: "You are what you say you are." Now both she and I know that saying you are a brain surgeon doesn't make you one, but does saying you are an editor or a writer make you one? Or does the accumulated experience and the formal training you do over the years make you one? A qualification in publishing here in South Africa is a very new phenomena.

Another friend and I were chuckling cynically over the need to have a teaching diploma to teach in primary and secondary school and yet lecturers at varsity level don't need an education/teaching qualification at all. Surely teaching at varsity level requires even more understanding of how people learn and how to help them learn.

All of this interest in qualifications and what a particular one makes you fit to do was inspired by my CV. It spans a few pages which would surprise the 20-something who first created a CV for Pamela - me! She didn't think she'd ever fill a page much less three or four. 

My experience has mostly been in communication although I've had a few years experience in another life in waiting tables, short order cooking and operating a commercial sewing machine - all experiences that taught me much but I wouldn't want to go back and redo the course.

Most of my qualifications are focused on literature, English language and communication. In South Africa right now, communicators hide behind every bush. We are many and all of us tout ourselves as professional. 

I have completed the CELTA course and a year-long ABET practitioner course with Unisa. I also did the SAQA-accredited Assessor's course. Does that make me a teacher? 

I guess the best hope I have of realising my lifelong dream of becoming an academic is to dust off my PhD research. After dropping my studies due to work pressure in year 2, perhaps I should tweak the project, reapply and look forward to the life in an ivory tower. With Blade suggesting that academics should stick around campus until 80, I'll at least have hope of employment beyond the usual 65.

That's my back up plan if the best-selling novelist and Lotto win don't materialise!

What's your back-up plan?


Damaria Senne said...

My plan B is investing in property. I'd like to do more of that, so that rental income can augment my writing income, and maybe when I'm ready to retire, it can support me completely.

po said...

Yikes, lol, I don't have one! I need some kind of a plan altogether! I am panicking right now because I just announced to my boss that we are moving back to South Africa, and it is freaking me out that there is so little work for someone like me in SA. I may need to reinvent myself completely. I just need to figure out how.

Damaria Senne said...

You're almost ready to come back to SA? Yay! I do hope you can get work in your field of study. What about lecturing at varsity? Is it not an option?

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