Monday, 22 February 2021

Glad I quit...the academy

Students at graduation (Shutterstock)

Eight years ago I quit my post at the university where I had taught for almost 15 years. I felt disheartened at the time with everything that was going on in the world of academia. A casual conversation with the editor of Times Higher Education led me to write an article in which I voiced my discontent and my concerns for how things were going.

Leaving my job felt like walking out of a 'bad' marriage ( a tweet exchange with a celebrity academic prompted the reply 'What about the children?'). I felt free, though I was also scared and had occasional waves of regret sweeping through me. I still thought that I might go back to teaching after a break, somewhere else, obviously. It was not to be, other things awaited me. I relished the freedom I suddenly enjoyed (and a little less the lack of financial security, but I learnt to adapt).  I was able to do more writing in my own time, securing funding for a project that then led me to publish a full length monograph - Contemporary Indonesian Fashion. Through the looking glass (Boomsbury 2019),  the outcome of that research project in a new field of studies, fashion. 

Meanwhile, modelling really took off for me, especially after I joined Grey Model Agency and I embarked on a new career as model, fashion writer and fashion activist. 


King's College, Cambridge (Google images)

A recent conversation with an overseas student who had failed her master, having submitted a dissertation that did not match the course requirements, brought it all back. Whatever I wrote in that THE article back in 2013 is still valid and perhaps even more relevant today, at a time when COVID-19 has disrupted academic teaching even more.  Students do fail their courses, but it is important to understand why this happens. It is not always the case that they are bad students, it is often because the teaching is inadequately structured. I am not blaming tutors either. They work very hard, it is, as I said a structural problem.

Rather than rewriting my article of 2013, I am providing a link to it here. Leaving the academy was not easy, but I survived and thrived. 

It is sad though to realise that eight years on things have changed, yes, but for the worse.


(Disclaimer: the images for this post have nothing to do with its content) 

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