Archive for the ‘education’ Category


This week I’ve changed the title of my blog slightly to better reflect the content. As some of you will have noticed parts of my blog are about life at uni, whereas other parts are about anything on my mind!

This week has been a largely uneventful week at uni for me. I missed the ‘Film and Cinema’ lecture on Monday morning because I was poorly. Tuesday I didn’t have a lecture so my first trip to uni was Thursday afternoon for ‘Men, Masculinity and Crime’. The lecture this week consisted of watching the film ‘Fightclub’ and analysing the film. For me the film was all about finding your identity and that applies equally to males and females and the rejection of the consumerist society we live in. the film went back to a more basic way of living where it seems it was easier to create an identity for yourself because you had less fingers pointing at you from all directions and corners of society telling you what you had to wear, what to watch, what sport to play and on and on and on, in order to be considered a woman or a man. The film seemed to go back to the caveman era and showed the base emotions of society as the foundation for the building and maintaining of an identity. I feel that many films are like ‘Fightclub’ in that there is often a hidden message underneath the plotline and it is up to the individual to find that message, make sense of it and reflect on how they live their lives in comparison. Quite often I think many people watch a film purely for entertainment without looking deeper and finding the meaning and message in the film. They watch the film for pleasure noticing only the car chases, fights and explosions without seeing the life messages behind them.

Which leads me neatly onto my next ‘the media’ as studied in the lecture ‘Representing the Social’. This module gets you thinking about the world we all inhabit and looking at it differently. This week was about one of my favourite subjects the media. The media affects all of us whether we like it or not. From the traditional forms of media such as books, newspapers, radio and television to the new forms such as Facebook, Twitter and the internet itself we are constantly surrounded by the media and therefore media representations of life, society and the world. The main question for many academics is ‘does the media represent or construct society’?

If you ask anyone who is connected to the media they will tell you that they are merely reflecting on what goes on in society and the audience can pick and choose what it watches or reads and therefore make reasoned choice about what it believes. However another very different school of thought believes the media construct the society we live in by altering the images they show us, telling a story in a particular way or reporting on one story and not another. By doing this the media can have an immense influence on how we perceive the world around us and change the way we see society.

One way of doing this is to buy three different newspapers on the same day and look at them in detail and how they are constructed. Say for instance there had been a march against austerity the day before or a murder or someone’s human right’s had been violated, do the newspaper’s report on these stories in the same way? Do they occur on the same page in-between the same stories? Are the same words used for the stories? Is the same political slant given to the stories? The simple answer is no. Different newspaper’s will report a story in different ways. One story might have the victim’s story first, another, the perpetrator. One story might have a right-wing slant, another a left-wing slant, another newspaper might not give the story much space or not even report it at all. By doing this you can see how the media in its different forms constructs a view of the world from their perspective and because the reader may only read that particular story it will influence the readers view of the world around them.

This is especially important in today’s information saturated world we live in. How do we know what is and is not real? Who do we believe? How do we know if an event happened as it has been reported or if it has been altered in some way to reflect the views of the newspaper? The answer is we don’t but if there is a story that holds your interest, gets you thinking and asking questions it is worth getting three or four different perspectives of the same story and seeing which parts are reported similarly and which are reported differently. Research the background of the story makers. What political affiliations do they have? Which people do they consider important? Who are their friends? All of this information will tell you a lot about the background to the story, why they consider it important and the world they are trying to construct for you to live in and believe in.

There is a lot more I could write about the media but I don’t have the space in this blog. The main thing to think about next time your reading a newspaper or the internet or watching the news is that the main reason the media exists is to sell stories and make money for their owners. It’s not to tell you the truth as it happened but to tell you a story that makes you want to buy that particular newspaper over another newspaper. And never be afraid to question what you read and are told. Question the motives of those behind the story, question why they think it is important and question yourself too. Why is it important to you? Why do you care about this story and not another one? Always question.

Otherwise it’s been a normal week for me. Friday was a very long day with four hours of lectures and then a trip to Hebden Bridge for a special Shindig hosted by the amazing Winston Plowes. If you don’t know a Shindig is a spoken word event which features one or two guest performers and an open mic session. I performed a couple of old favourites and a new poem which went down very well. The highlight for me though was an old lady telling the main guest he was ‘rubbish’ and should ‘get off the stage’. It was one of those moments when you shouldn’t laugh but can’t help it.

Saturday was spent watching my local amateur rugby league team Queensbury play out a tough 18-18 draw with local rivals Illingworth, the game wasn’t the most skilful but was a tough game of rugby played mainly in the forwards by two teams refusing to give an inch, a very tough game emphasised by the sound of flesh slamming into flesh, blood on faces and sweat pouring into the pitch from said players. These young lads play the game for pleasure yet still face the same pitfalls as professional players in the form of aching limbs and injuries. The main difference is that these lads have to get up for work on Monday morning with their legs still aching from chasing the opposition, bruises all over their bodies, black eyes, missing teeth and the odd broken limb. It is a tough, uncompromising sport just as much at the amateur level as it is at the professional level.

Thanks for reading and take care.


Another good week at university. The main focus this week has been the dreaded dissertation. I must admit I have been very worried about it as most students are and with good reason. Doing your dissertation is one of the most daunting experiences you can face at university. It’s your final year and you have the choice of what to do for your dissertation. There is so much choice in what to do and then so many other parts of it to think about such as your research methods, ethical considerations and how you are actually going to write it up it can be very overwhelming and take over your life.

But somehow I have managed to navigate all of this successfully so far. What I have done is to think small and focus on just one small part of a larger structure. I am doing my dissertation on disability but I am focusing my research on contemporary attitudes to people with a physical disability post 2012 Paralympics. By doing this I have a focal point from which I can start from and end and an area I can breakdown into its various component parts and decide which part I am going to concentrate on.

Attitudes to disability, is a very important area to many people and for society in general because it can affect a person’s quality of life and how they view others around them. If people with disabilities are treated fairly their outlook and attitude to life will improve and have an effect on their overall wellbeing. If however they are treated badly this can destroy a person’s confidence and have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. This is why attitudes to disability is so important to me.

The reason I’m doing physical disabilities is because I feel it is an easier area to research because it is more in the open than mental health issues and hopefully I will get more responses for me to draw my conclusions from. Also whilst 9,000 words sounds a lot in practice it isn’t that many when you take into consideration I have to do sections on my abstract, introduction, research methods, ethics and conclusion. All of these sections eat up the word count and for that reason I feel it is vitally important to focus on one small area of a much larger picture and stay focus on it or you run the risk of going over your word count and more crucially not getting your point across and losing marks.

Not a lot has happened this week on the poetry front. The open mic sessions are usually one a week but last week was an exception with two in one week followed by none. I did go to a workshop run by the renowned and immensely talented Kim Moore. The subject was the body and Kim had some great exercises for us all to get our minds thinking about how we use our bodies and all the stresses we put them thorough. It was a time of reflection for something we take for granted and only notice when something goes wrong, we break a bone or have an infection. It’s always lovely to hear what everybody else has written from the same prompts and everybody writes something very different. Another writing friend of mine Keith Hutson writes some very funny and witty material and always makes everybody laugh. Keith has a gift for taking a serious subject and finding the humour in it without devaluing or demeaning the subject in any way.

 

Afterwards I went for a walk around Ilkley with my follow Igniting the Spark writer Louella Ramsden and ended up buying Ted Hughes Collected Poems and Simon Armitage Paper Aeroplane. Something for me to read when I’m not doing my university work. It’s always good to have a distraction from the pressure of a degree.

This upcoming week is very busy. On Wednesday I visit the eye doctor to see what damage has been done to my right eye. I will admit I’m not looking forward to it but these things come along in life and we have to face up to them and see what the outcome is. Hopefully the news won’t be too bad and all I’ll need is a stronger prescription!

Tuesday I’m back at Igniting the Spark for one night only as I have no lecture this week at that time and I’m looking forward to catching up with everybody there and seeing what Gaia has in store for us to get our imaginations working. I’m looking forward to Friday immensely as there is a special event at Hebden Bridge Town Hall celebrating the poetry of Ted Hughes and a special open mic Shindig where as long as I get a spot I will be reading some of my favourite Ted Hughes poetry. If your around Hebden Bridge on Friday night get yourselves to the town hall for what promises to be a great evening of poetry.

Have a great week everybody and take care.


Well this week was my first week back at university in my final year of undergraduate studies. And all in all it was a pretty good week. The shock of having to get up early on a Monday morning to join everybody else in the car park grand prix was something I had been dreading and it didn’t disappoint. Monday morning, 6.30am and the alarm goes off and keeps repeating until I can find my phone to turn it off. Up and out though I went for my first lecture at 9.15am and to be honest it wasn’t that bad once I got into the car and set off and you realise that you’re going through the same routine as millions of others.

Huddersfield is a lovely town, so many fine Victorian buildings in a compact setting which makes it very easy to get around. One other thing I love about Huddersfield is the variety of shops it has for such a small town from trinket shops to a great Oxfam book shop where I have bought many bargains to a West Indian food shop which one day I must go in to see what I can buy to make a stir-fry, Huddersfield seems to have something for everyone and is a great alternative to nearby towns and cities. Bradford in my opinion has gone downhill since I was a small child in awe of its charms and history. Where once there were grand buildings, a great fish and meat market and a city with life, now there is only betting shops, mobile phones shops and pound shops. The reasons for this are many and complex but to me it’s about trying to compete with it’s much larger neighbour, Leeds, rather than trying to establish its own identity which Huddersfield and Halifax seem to have done. The aforementioned Leeds has gone from strength to strength and is now a powerhouse of industry in the North, up there with Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle for importance.

However I digress and suffice to say that walking to university on a crisp and sunny October morning, is for me one of life’s little pleasures, made even better once the university itself comes into view and the feeling of learning, teaching and hard work comes wafting through the air like the smell of the freshly baked buns my mum used to bake for me and which brought me running back home from wherever I was. I had been to the university over the summer and at that time when it is empty of students it does seem a desolate place and reminds me of a ghost town with the odd person wandering around as if they had stumbled across it by accident. Come September though and it begins to come alive with noise, smell, colour and you realise the purpose behind any university which is not only to learn the subject you are studying for but also to experience life and culture in a unique setting safe from the usual pressures of society.

This was brought home as my lecture that day was Film and Cinema and looking back at classic British films, in this case Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and looking at the culture of that period which inspired that film and comparing it to contemporary society and seeing what has and has not changed. Much has changed of course, but a lot of things haven’t and some of the ways in which people are portrayed in the film are very similar to today’s society. Angry young men, going out drinking, illicit relationships, still go on and always will. All that’s changed is the setting because so many places have been demolished and rebuilt and the scene with different music, television and fashion. Strip all that away and you still have the same lives being lived, the same mistakes being made, hearts being broken and a myriad of other situations that make life what it is. Watching an old classic film such as this and reading the newspaper headlines from that era drive it home even more for me. We all think we are inventing life when in fact all we are doing reliving the lives of these who have gone before us.

It was of course good to see familiar faces and catch up on what people had been doing over the summer break. Most people hadn’t been doing too much by the sound of things, but still had a pleasant summer away from university. The rest of the week was a gentle easing back into university life, although there is always that undercurrent of seriousness to be read into what your lecturers say. I’m under no illusions that this year will be very hard but ultimately very rewarding too. This was emphasised by the meeting I had with my dissertation supervisor who set me a few tasks but also warned me about taking on too much over the coming year and concentrating on my studies. This was further driven home when I decided that I could still stop up late, get up early and do my lectures and very quickly discovered I could not. Lesson number one learnt!

It has been a very good week back at university, but now the hard work starts as I move into week two and doing some actual work!