Below is the history of where my thinking is at on the PhD. I’m shifting gears a little so am now putting these links at the top of the page to help me organise my thinking.

This paper is really interesting and is going to help me think about supervisors. The reason this has come up is because I’m going to cross a range of sectors.

I’ve also refined where I’m going further. The working title is now, “From the Cave to the Coin” an examination of education philosophy and policy in a capitalist society where education CEOs are still academics. Basically, I’ve found that there is a lot of discussion about the need for higher education to be more business like and yet we still employ academics at the helm. Is that appropriate given we are now producing students who are products to contribute to GDP growth rather than thinkers and innovators? If that is indeed what we are doing.

Working in this job has reignited my interest in completing a PhD. Back in 1998 I decided I wanted to do research about the skills gap and the relationship between VET and industry. This was of interest because I was working in AusIndustry looking at innovation, how it occurs, what government policy can do to support it and so on. I was curious as to why there was a skills gap. In my simplistic understanding, why could industry just know that they needed in their five year forecasts and then tell the VET sector to train more people.

Of course I now understand that several things occur. One being that industry is not really organised enough to know about tomorrow let alone five years simply because there are so many volatile external factors. The second, and this is linked to my current job, how do you engage students to go to the sector there will be jobs rather than what they are interested in?

Anyway, about three years ago I started clarifying my PhD thoughts. After spending several hours  today (27/10/13) looking for that book, I’m starting again. But I’m thinking a different way.

Plato (apparently I’ve misplaced my copy of Republic somewhere too so no accurate referencing at this time – maybe the two books are together…..) argues that education is needed to make good citizens (really general there). Today it seems that education is to lead to employment. If we are at a time when we don’t know what the jobs will be, how does this work? And now, I have a PhD research field because I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of people out there who are already thinking and working in this space. I have to work out how I convince someone to let me spend days looking at what’s going on and come up with some theories of my own.

This page will be my thinking space. I’m hoping to fill it with some research links (like my other page), but like all things I’ll see how I go for time. At least I can’t lose this page…..right?

I’ve just posted about the COAG report released today and it has tied in so nicely with a meeting that I was at this morning about a course structure. The comment was made about designing the course to employment. Developing the elective pathways to align with different roles within the industry. The course is very clearly identifying what they should teach and why and they are being flexible in the choices they make to be able to adapt to the changing needs of the industry. The academic world is clearly thinking about supporting the commercial world. For this course in this industry I think that’s gold. By thinking in these terms the units up for debate are able to state clearly why they should remain current because of their ability to build skills and knowledge that students will need in the industry tomorrow. It removes the personal aspect to unit lists. By that I mean, the decision on which units should remain, which should go and which need to be created. One question I am thinking of, what about philosophy? What is the industry application? If we think of academia in industrial terms, do we run the risk of losing thought? This is totally where I want to spend four years researching!

Out for dinner last night with some wonderful friends at my ‘supper club’. I was talking about this PhD idea of mine. I expressed my thesis to them in various ways and we talked about it for a bit and then it sort of came together. I think my proposition to explore is:
“Have we come to point today where education is the key to the workplace and is this what Plato conceived of as the creation of a citizen?” After all in a capitalist society, an effective citizen is one that can contribute to GDP. If I examine this in the context of vocational education and current government education policy maybe it will be refined enough to be a new area of research. Now to find my copy of Plato (yes I’ve now been looking for three weeks) and start finding out what is already out there on this topic.

All is well with the world I’ve found Plato. Well obviously not the real one…..I’ve also been talking to people and someone said you need to describe your PhD in one sentence. That thought made me come back to this page. The sentence above, upon reflection, is actually not too bad. In fact, it’s working so well for me right now I’m just going to take my advice and do some research. Love it when that happens. You do something, walk away for a bit, come back, and it’s not too shabby at all.

The beginning of thinking:
I’ve begun reading Republic again and turns out last time I didn’t really bother with the first chapter – I went straight to the education stuff and apparently that was enough! Anyway, I’ve read it now. And interestingly it talks about the division of labour and the construct of trade in a society. Way cool. So I’ve begun exploring material to help structure my formal research and construct my research proposal. This is random thought ideas while I watch television and try to put thinking on the back burner. I know, not a great idea but that’s why I’m putting links here for me to come back to.

Summary of Plato’s position in the context of economic thinking.

Concept of education and ethics that I hadn’t thought about before. Is it ethical to teach people for work and jobs rather than to think and explore? Are we now unethical because the focus on knowledge, skills and their workplace application?

I’m so glad I’m keeping this page because I’d forgotten I’d done that stuff and now I’ve started a new document for my thinking. I’ve also discovered that I think reading some Karl Marx and Betrand Russell is on the cards. The interesting concept to me here is seeing how my researching and thinking is changing over time. The links above are me trying to explore what others are thinking. I’m a point now I need to explore what I’m thinking about what other people are writing. I think this will see-saw throughout this journey of discovery. Oh, and I really need to enrol in some research units. Maybe I’ll google those next.

So, doing some research about the life and times of Plato given I have very little history study behind me. A range of things are being discovered about Ancient Greece, and thankfully my brother-in-law was able to ensure I didn’t go off the tangent of no return. Plato writes about mothers and nurses as teaching the children. He puts the initial educational moment in the hands of people who are seen as low in society – women and slaves. However, as my brother-in-law points out, I can’t overlay modern perceptions and understanding on the ancient world. For Plato there is no possibility that the women would not do as they were told once they were told what to teach, and the women would only have taught what they were told to teach. There would have been no rebellion at that time. Something I should remember. I also came across this article which I need to read in full, but first I have to bake a cake.

Today (4 February 2014) Jenni had posted this on Facebook. I really like it.


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