Sunday, 10 April 2011

Reverse competitiveness

Maybe it's a British thing, but I've really noticed over the time I've been studying with the OU a kind of 'reverse competitiveness' amongst my fellow students.

It manifests itself in comments like "Oh I'm so far behind, I expect you've already finished it!" or "You're getting so much better marks than me, you're doing so well and I'm hopeless at it" or "I can't believe I got 97%, I thought I'd totally flunked it and was dreading my mark!" (yeah, sure you did).

I even find myself defending myself when someone comments on what stage I'm at compared with them: "oh no I haven't finished it, in fact I did no studying at all last week".   Why can't we just admit if we're enjoying something, or finding it easier than someone else might - the next module it might be the other way round. It's almost as if people need to prove how much they are struggling so they can get a group hug.

I'm not saying I'm not sympathetic to those that are struggling, but sometimes I really doubt they are finding it any harder than I am. It's just that I have more time to spend on it than some.

OU is of course different to 'normal' university because almost everyone has either a full time job, or a family, young children, caring for elderly parents, or sometimes all of the above. Yes there are some younger ones who are studying it full time but I imagine they are in the minority.  So, all of us have other commitments, are different ages and have a varying number of hours in the week to study.  We also have different strengths and weaknesses.  It's 100% certain that we'll all work at different speeds and struggle with (or not) different modules.

I also find it quite depressing how there is this expectation of having to moan about how hard/boring certain chapters are, or how un-supportive the tutor is ("gosh you're so lucky, my tutor is useless and takes over an hour to reply to an e-mail").  This, then, is the build up to being able to bemoan a 'low mark' - it was boring/I didn't get the support from my tutor.

What is more surprising on my current course is that we're studying Psychology for goodness sake... surely we should be able to look at ourselves by now and see what we're doing when we make these comments?   Physician, heal thyself.  Or at least have a stab at dealing with that lack of self-confidence which is most likely what is behind it all.

Hmm, it's probably a good thing I'm not training for a career in counselling...?


  1. *laughing*

    Oh, I don't know about that. I have an idea that folks could learn about 'personal responsibility' from you.

    Dunno that it's a cultural thing, though--seems the stretched Americans have the same theory. Personally--everyone knows *I* have it worse for heavens sake!

    Yes, I'm the psycho-therapist.
    But that's NOT my fault. :-/

  2. Some people just don't know how to make conversation except through complaining about something. There are people like that here in Oz too. I don't think it's just a British thing.

    Although, maybe it's something the British are particularly good at though :)


If you'd like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear it.

If you prefer to just read, appreciate and then move on, that's fine too :-)