This blog began some three and a half years ago and at the time I couldn’t really put a finger on what I was good at and hence the title.
Over these past years, kindly folk have suggested various masteries I could claim as my own but I’ve usually shrugged them off.
I’ve always struggled to say “I am good at…” and always wondered why.
Recently, I realised that perhaps it is because I possess no socially acceptable standard that I am a master of anything. It is hard to claim something for which you have no proof.
If you can say in society, “I have a degree in Literature/Creative Writing/Journalism. I am a good writer”, everyone around you will nod their heads, admire you and agree “You are a good writer.”
If you can say in society, “I have a Masters of Education from [name your own prestigious university]. I am a good teacher”, you will be regarded as an asset to any classroom.
If, however, you possess a degree in Mathematics but do not work in the field, what is it worth?
If you are qualified to teach science and mathematics but teach in an area where those skills are irrelevant, what good are you really?
And yet, I know I am a good writer. I know I am a good teacher. But my evidence for such claims is circumstantial and personal.
It is the people who tell me, “Write more blog posts, we love your writing”. It is the staff who smile happily when they realise you will be teaching in their classroom.
Fine for me.
Not so much for society.
One of my (pathetically) prized possessions is a photocopy of the front page of a training manual I once wrote which was reviewed by the upper management Training Manager (for some reason that I do not recall).
On the page, he had written “This is the best training material I have ever read in my 13+ years of training”.
Like all positions of employment I’ve ever held in my life, I had neither the qualifications nor experience to be employed as a training developer but for some reason they gave me the job anyway and I got this review within my first year on the job.
But it doesn’t look as significant hung on the wall as a Bachelor’s degree.
I’ve never even sat a music exam. So I have no proof that I can sing, play piano or guitar or write music. Well, I do have a school report from Year 9 Music that says, “She has a good working knowledge of music theory at this level and in the end-of-year examination scored an impressive 100%” so there’s that, I guess but I’m not sure how that would play out.
“So, what Grade level did you reach?”
“Me? Oh, well, none. But I have this great report from my Year 9 music teacher. Want to read it?”
The prompt for this post was a comment that found me consumed with jealousy for those who can claim a qualification to legitimise their obvious skills. I’d offered some assistance with a task on the basis of believing I possessed some relevant skill but was countered with the explanation that the other person possessed a high level qualification in the area in question and would therefore not require my unqualified help.
I can’t argue with that.
Of course, if it concerns me so much, why don’t I go out and gain such qualifications? Because I’m a Jack of ALL Trades. Which qualification would I pick?? I’m not sure I’ve got enough time or energy (or money!) to pursue a degree in literature, journalism, music, fine arts, computer programming, IT support or a Masters/PhD in Education, Science, Mathematics or a trade qualification in building, carpentry, painting, textiles, electronics, costume design, cake decorating or car maintenance.
So I think I’ll just go on as before, having a stab at anything that takes my fancy whether qualified to do so or not, and live the life of a Jack of All Trades.
And hope that someday someone introduces a Master of All Trades qualification.
I’d like to hang that on my wall.