Another message from Professor David Collins

In my previous blog I made no fewer than three reading recommendations and yet confessed that I did not actually take up reading seriously until I was around 16. I should probably take a moment to expand upon this revelation…

It’s true I did not actually take up reading seriously until I was around sixteen. How had I spent my time prior to that? Well I had been playing soldiers (my father and all my uncles had seen action in World War II), playing football (poorly), playing basketball (with a little more flair, but if you ever meet me, you will see that this was not going to go anywhere). I had also been watching television.

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All this ceased abruptly when I was sixteen. My family moved from Kilmarnock to a very small town called Newmilns and my father returned our old rented television (yes people rented televisions in those days!) and simply refused to buy a replacement. So I guess you are now thinking that this is the part of the story where I say… ‘And at this point, having been denied easy access to the mind-numbing so-called entertainment that is television I turned to reading, quickly devoured all the classics, and in so doing took the first steps on a path that would lead me to an academic career.’

Well I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is not how the story goes. Truthfully I was miserable. My friends now lived miles away and the things that I would normally do to keep me occupied on a winter’s evening (watching television and road-running) were now no longer options (the roads in our little town were not lit). And in any case, the narrative of my transformation from viewer to reader fails because I had decided that I would like to become an academic two years previously!

So how did a boy from a working-class community, with no previous exposure to University study let alone academic careers, come to this decision aged fourteen? Well, the example set by some good teachers plainly helped. But the truth, as far as I am concerned, is that watching television improved my education. Watching really good television programmes had fuelled my curiosity, and it had begun to teach me that you could educate and entertain. Indeed television had taught me that education was pretty much impossible in the absence of an engaging narrative. It’s probably not surprising therefore that much of my research on the practices and processes of managing has focused upon storytelling.

So what’s my point? I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you feel that your background and biography somehow disqualify you from higher education, think again. I transitioned fairly quickly from not reading books to writing my own and there’s no reason why you can’t so the same.

The University of Suffolk is committed to supporting students from all backgrounds succeed in their chosen careers. Explore our range of degrees here. Professor David Collins is the Head of the Suffolk Business School, which offers undergraduate degrees in:

  • BA (Hons) Accounting and Financial Management
  • BA (Hons) Business Management
  • BA (Hons) Event Management
  • BA (Hons) Event Management and Tourism Management
  • BA (Hons) Tourism Management

We also offer postgraduate qualifications in:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • MSc Business and Management
  • PgD Human Resource Management
  • MSc Human Resource Management
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3 thoughts on “Another message from Professor David Collins

  1. Thanks for sharing this true story David. Fascinating indeed. In finance, narrative has completely disappeared in teaching and its a huge loss. Narrative weaves together the person with the science, rather than separating them in an artificial way. This is critical especially for the social sciences. The best known and best-selling global finance writer today is Michael Lewis and he both a scientist and an artist and uses narrative brilliantly to demystify finance. Just as science has tried to separate the mind, body and spirit for the last two hundred years, the social sciences have tried to divide business so that they can be ‘expert’, whatever that means. I agree that education is for the whole person, and in my teaching approach, I encourage students to share their own experiences of spending, saving and borrowing, as they are real and equally valid. This helps them to come alive and connect with the subject in an intimate way, just like your own story above.

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