My route into higher education wasn’t what you would call ‘conventional’. After starting my university education doing a drama course in Salford, I moved onto a BA in Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University and then stepped up to a BSc (Econ) in Sociology at Cardiff University, by which time I had been in higher education for three years.
The thing that drew me to sociology was the cultural and critical thinking that I had done in my drama degree. I liked the idea of critically analysing culture and why we do the things we do and how this impacts society. For me, it’s not necessarily the content of what I learned during my sociology degree that was important, although that of course had a massive impact on my thinking around race, sex, gender, culture etc. However, it was more of this idea of critically thinking about these topics and learning how to discuss them with people who may very well have conflicting views to me, but with a common ground and desire to discuss society and culture and a longing to understand more.
In my years of compulsory education, one thing that sticks out now looking back, is the lack of teaching us how to think. Rather, we were taught what to think, which personally I don’t feel prepares you for ‘adult life’ as well as it should. It’s very well and good having knowledge on history, geography, music and so forth, but if you’re not given the ability to think about these subjects and their impacts on the individual,
you’re missing out on a whole side to them that are just as important as the basic teaching of how to do them. If we were taught why we do them, and what they mean to different people and different cultures, I feel we would all have a far better understanding of people and ‘self’.
Over the past few weeks, with the rise of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and what this means to me and my social group, I’ve found myself to be in a lucky position of being able to access resources from the my undergrad, online, but also mentally. As great as this is for me, I find it’s unfair that this isn’t just common knowledge, or knowledge that’s more widely accessible. The way in which we learnt to critically discuss society has allowed me to debate, in a productive way. It's allowed me to continue to be sceptical of society, but also more understanding of it.
To think, is to learn, and if we don’t learn, we’ll never get any better. To critically view society and culture is healthy and allows us to see different angles on subjects that we may never have thought before, opening you up to different people and different thought patterns. A sociology degree may not be for everyone, but the basic tools that you gain from it shouldn’t be limited to undergraduate level.