I have never considered my self smart. My schooling test results were mainly above-average, but I worked consistently, and often for long hours in order to achieve these. I recall I often looked to those who got the top grades – those who appeared to do it effortlessly – and wondered what they had inside their heads that I didn’t. My mother was strict, and prohibited me from going out to play until I had done my chores, and homework. I therefore sat there, and continued to toil, in order to be able to get outside. It brought both resentment (for being denied play time) and conviction (to get my chores or home tasks completed, in order to get outside to enjoy playtime). Possibly this was imposed as a result of other behaviour I exhibited in the years prior, but I don’t recall what or when this, may have been.
I do however recall I always seemed to get into trouble with my parents, relatives and teachers, just for being me. Mmmmm……… Ok, I was probably mischievous. Thinking back, there was the time I talked my neighbour’s sister into going with me to the local gas station to buy a packet of cigarettes. I recall I was seven (7) years old, and she was possibly four (4) years old at best. What was the fuss? No one was harmed – just a simple afternoon walk. It was of no consequence to anybody really…… well, except the girl’s parents. When they eventually found out, they in turn told my parents. Mmmm…. banished to my room with limited dinner, no playing and no talking for what seemed like a month.
I perhaps had a limited filter between my thoughts and my mouth. I thought, I spoke, I acted.
(Terry-Toons Comics 1945-1951)
My mother was an active P+C member in my schools, and therefore she knew the teachers, and most likely, the principal. One of my school principals was a very social person. He would hang in the school grounds and talk to the students at break times. He was large – a big guy – with snow white hair, and a large jovial face. Much like I imagined Santa Claus would look like in an everyday suit. He was well over weight. I recall – when I was about six (6) years old – during a playground catch up sharing with him what my brother and sister called him at home – Fatty Arbuckle. Several days later, I recall coming home to be greeted by my mother…. mmmm….I was banished to my room with limited dinner, no playing and no talking for what seemed like a month. She had heard through the Principal at a P+C meeting what I had shared with him. I hadn’t told him to be malicious – I just thought it was funny, and wanted to share it with him. I was sure he would enjoy it. Mmmmm…. note to self.
I was left-handed. Up until I was about eight (8) years old, the teachers at my first primary school made me sit on my left-hand during class times, to (as they said) ‘get it (my left-handedness) out of my system’. I remember when I moved up to the next class level at another school, being told to sit on my left-hand was no longer a focus of the teacher. I recall wondering whether this ceasing to focus on my left-handedness being an issue at the new school was due to the teacher, the school’s approach, or in fact it was just the end of an era of left-handedness being considered wrong.
I recall I was naturally happy – smiling, and this too caused issues. Again with parents, relatives, and teachers – wondering with such a smile on my face, what I was up to. I recall a teacher talking sternly to our class one day (we had possibly been talking and acting up while waiting to be let into our home room after a lunch break). All students were standing, ready to be seated by our teacher prior to class, as she dressed us down for our noisy behaviour in the corridor. I was apparently standing there, during this dressing down, with a smile on my face. “What are you smiling at?” she barked. “I, I , I am happy?” I responded meekly. The class laughed, though I am unsure of whether they were laughing with me, or perhaps laughing at me?
I was average at individual sport, but recognised early on, the advantage of team sports. I learnt that within a team I could excel. I became a year house captain within my school; and played in team sports on Saturday mornings, with a team that was consistently in the top two teams in the district over an 8 year period.
I was always a practical person, wanting to do things with my hands, but also realised I wanted to know how it worked, and how I could use it for other applications. I pulled apart all kinds of gadgets, toys, billy carts, wheel-barrows; antique clocks, motor mowers, motorbikes, and cars. I admit I didn’t like the follow up process – the putting back together of these things. I had learnt in pulling them apart what I needed to know – how it worked, so that I could then consider other applications. I made (make believe) sports cars, space ships, and moon craft with the many parts I had before me – all in the backyard. Once I had created my make believe craft, I would then move onto the next thing. Yes, I got bored quickly.
Industry beckoning me
I quit school because I was bored, preferring to get out start working with adults. I started engineering at a trade level, but quickly realised, as soon as I had worked out the how, I was again ready to move on. I then applied to enter tertiary study, fumbling my way through a bachelor’s degree without having completed the final two years of high school. I used the time to explore all manner of things – philosophy, re-engage with my music-making, experiencing social events, bands, pubs, live gigs, and girls. I struggled to find my place in that institution studying a business degree, but looking through many photos of that era, I recall I had a lot of fun trying. Eventually, when I ended up graduating, I immediately headed overseas to explore the world. I arrived in Asia to an opportunity in corporate education and training. I played in a number of cross-cultural band, performing at many cultural festivals. As a foreign educator and trainer, I was also volunteered to make addresses at significant events in the local region, such as at the openings of bridges and at local government and community meetings. I gained invaluable experience and skills, that had I stayed in my native Australia, i would not have had similar opportunities. Several years passed and I returned home. I considered my options, and chose to formalise my experience gained in education and training with qualifications, in order to be able to continue my education and learning practice in Australia.
After some ten (10) years of practice, the next level of formal qualifications beckoned. I re-entered university to complete my masters degree. At its conclusion, it was suggested I progress onto a doctorate in that discipline. However, after only a short time of study, I was tempted back into industry. The choice was easy for me to make – to apply in real life my proposed thesis topic, rather than remaining at university and developing the thesis statement theoretically.
I commenced managing a local site of a globally-run business, and within a few years had surpassed all projected targets. I progressed into a number of global leadership roles. These required much local and international travel attending conferences, and leading staff training and professional development sessions across a number of content areas: organisational and operational management (including finance, HR, business development, systems and processes), and my developing expertise -corporate culture. Within a global business with over 30 sites around the globe, there was always a need for re-aligning sites to the organisational needs. My demonstrated expertise in change management provided an opportunity to move overseas permanently, heading a region that was now in financial difficulty, and facing deregulation by the countries’ governing body. Over a three year period, I liaised closely with government, governing bodies, financial institutions and head office to return the regional multi-site entity to full accreditation and profitability. Unfortunately, just a few months after this GFC hit the global economy and over a twelve month period, the corporate entity – located in Japan – went into receivership. Fortunately, the region I had led in its development was one of the few secure entities to survive the GFC, and was able to be on-sold. My wife and I returned home to Australia, to enter our next phase.
As my career had developed into governance roles, I formalised this experience with a qualification upon returning home. As a number of education, training and consulttancy opportunities arose, I arrived into the industry of my main passion, creative arts. Firstly, an education and training role in music and sound; followed by governance roles in film and arts business development. Having embarked on a doctorate previously, and not choosing to continue it, I had a feeling of incompleteness. In addition, having only formally studied my area of passion – music and sound – at an entry tertiary level, and still having so many unanswered questions, I decided to enquire what possible programs I could consider. In talking to several industry contacts, I was quickly referred to the Head of Department at one of Queensland’s leading universities, and over the course of a fifteen (15) minute conversation, a Doctorate of Creative Industries was suggested. I proposed a topic and after some months I received confirmation of my acceptance.
Symbol of my learning and development
Over the past number of years, I have used the image of the purple onion to represent my approach to life. I am committed to learning – something I have done over most of my life – looking under the many layers of my practice or self in order to gain more insight into life and practice. I still do not consider my self smart, but experienced. I believe in Ericsson’s 10,000 hours (Ericsson in Page 2004), and believe much of my life’s success is based on constant and continued work, rather than any presence of intelligence. I therefore embark on my doctoral pilot study journey with this in mind, and trust that this approach will be sufficient to have me realise the required milestones, at the level of rigour expected of Australian tertiary studies.
My journey begins….
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Pre-Doctoral Research Study – Part 2 (Page 2014b). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Ericsson, K.A., Krampe, R.T. and Tesch-Römer, C., 1993. The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological review, 100(3), p.363.
Learning Philosophy image courtesy of: Learning Accessed 15th October 2013
Page, David L. 2016 image courtesy of: Slideshare Accessed 30th April, 2017