Showing posts from August, 2022

How to prepare for the apocalypse

A lot of my work is about preparing our students for the future. Under the general banner of employability, I have a fairly boxed-in view about the future. We deal with college students and prepare them for jobs. Slightly ambitiously, we try to prepare them so that they can be masters, rather than slaves, within the context: You should be able to choose what you will do, and once you get the job, you should be able to keep it and grow in it, we say! Of course, more than anyone else, my colleagues and I know how hard a thing this is to achieve. The number of students in higher education and the number of middle class jobs (the type you keep and can grow in) are completely out of sync: A vast majority of university graduates, regardless of their degrees, will not find a proper job that can build their lives. Most will go from job to job, mostly staying at the same level all their life (job progression, the base that all middle class dreams are based on, usually only happen to 5% of the O

Conceiving a writing project

I am working on an idea of a book I want to write. This was in my mind for a while, though I conceived this differently. Initially this was meant to be a joint project, more as a self-development book for aspiring students. After the momentum for the same fizzled out, I had to re-concieve, not for the original commercial purpose but more as a personal meditation on what kind of professionals we need in the future. In essence, therefore, this is a new project. I don't want to write about 'employability' any more: It's not about advising students how to metamorphose into what employers might want. I have flipped the perspective in my mind: It is more about what kind of professionals we need to shape our future. In a way, I want to write a critique of the professions in their twilight, as the combined assault on the idea of expertise and dissipation of employer-employee social contract are undermining what it meant to be a professional. I did some work when I was still int

Not another course, please!

Courses are convenient. For any school, college or university, they are a good way to allocate time and resources. They can be fit into calendars, planned for and measured against set criteria. Therefore, the educational institutions really are the houses of courses! This was the framework I operate within, and if truth be told, resent. I see this as a case of inverted priorities: moving away from what the learners need or want, but rather what is the most economical, the mode of engagement being the same, and the most convenient. One could also argue that there is no real alternative: education in the formal sense must start and stop at some defined points and 'courses' are the most acceptable organising principle for these. There are no viable alternatives, the argument runs.  I disagree. As we have started delinking formal education from sitting in the classrooms, the rationale for 'courses' has grown weaker. The resource framework was hanging together by its fingert

On making a reading list

It is a rather strange time for me to work on my reading lists, but reading list is a strange thing for me to work on. If anything, in a time like this when my priorities are changing, a reading list is a great place to start. I consider it my strength that I have many interests. My mind seeks patterns, across topics and contexts, and my flow moments are those when I stumble upon similarities across contexts. This makes me a bad conversationalist and my skipping from one thing to another often exasperate others who are more disciplined and discipline-bound. But my big professional successes so far came from the ideas that seeped through boundaries of practice.  However, this is the reason I am always reading multiple different types of books together. It is not unusual for me to read a novel in the morning, some philosophy in the afternoon, be knee-deep in business early evening while taking history to bed, and equally enjoy all of them. I don't use bookmarks often (or I have less

Ready player one

I am living through this profound sense of ending - of my identity, my project and partnerships - and now, as a coping strategy, looking to shift my vision to the future. Enough of thinking about and analysing the mistakes that got me here; I am now thinking how to get out and what to do next. I know there is no easy escape. There are so many interconnected things I can't just walk away from. But at least, I have set things in motion. I have finally emotionally detached myself from a project which I considered to be my mission only a few months ago. I have also started putting my relationships away from personal commitments and friendships, as I was doing until now. The risk with my approach was that the whole edifice could have come down with a single mistake, as it duly did: I lost trust and before I knew it, my project was over. However, I have learnt that trying to pull away, making drastic changes, is too painful, particularly when other people are involved. So I am dismantlin

A note to myself

I write this on a sad afternoon when I feel the weight of the world. I grew up being told never to be weak. I accepted hardships would come. One would be tempted and led ashtray. The character, which was supposed to be key, was all about standing up to all these difficulties, denying the temptations and be steadfast about one's own purpose. This is how I lived so far. But I lost my way. I think it's the pandemic which did it. Partly it was me - a rush to reinvent myself! Partly it was my wrong estimation about people - who to trust and how much. And, of course, it was the circumstances, as my carefully constructed world collapsed in a perfect domino action. So I sit, this afternoon, desolate. It feels that there is no escape. On top of my mind is the slow decline of my father. Someone whose incandescent presence illuminated all my life seems to be fading out by a little bit everyday, but irreversibly. The sense of hopelessness is corrosive - it is exposing the meaningless way I

Education for internet economy

I have somehow defaulted into the education-to-employment transition business.  My interests are sincere. I have spent too much time in private higher education to understand the downsides of diploma mills, when the education becomes only about getting the diploma, and in the international context, about getting a visa through that diploma. The governments promote diplomas, as a way of social legitimacy or a way of getting immigration status, and the private higher education tends to follow the government policy. However, watching this business from close proximity, first in India, then in the UK and other international education destinations, I have grown weary of the limited aspirations of the diploma business. Therefore, this commitment to education-to-employment transition, which I have pursued with utmost sincerity for almost a decade now. But despite my evident engagement into this, can it count as my mission? Frankly, I don't believe in narrowly limiting the aim of education

The perfect reset

My carefully constructed plans are all coming to an end. Simultaneously, like a perfect domino.  A season for new beginnings is here. The pandemic got me into a mindset. Of waiting. Of believing things would sort themselves out with the passage of time. It's that quarantine mentality. And, while I never stopped, the way I imagined life and work was defined by this, a sort of trench mentality, survive to see through. However, I had no lack of ambition. At work, gradually, I arrived at a plan to transform global higher ed, yet again. It started modestly, just a specialist college in London; but soon, I was into products that could be plugged into all college curriculum and a network-based delivery method to scale it. It was an imperfect plan - I knew there was lot to be done - but I didn't hold back on dreaming.  Things changed in 2022 for me. I think it's the post-pandemic bounce that people talk about. I, boosted by vaccines, stopped fearing the pandemic. I started travelli

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