Last month, I read a letter in The Psychologist:
“Professor Alec Rodger . . . at Birkbeck, underlined that in developing a career there were at least two opposing strategies . . . to match an individual’s inclinations and abilities with external circumstances and opportunities. For some, a headlong target-oriented approach was appropriate in developing one’s career; while for others . . . . both external fortune and internal inclination better prescribed a procrastinatory (though agile at the right moment) strategy.” (Mallory Wober, May 2014)
The author, a social psychology researcher at my school some 45 years ago, encouraged my nascent interest in psychology, albeit with a formidable reading list.
In 1969, New Hall (now Murray Edwards) gave me a great escape from school.
The expected Oxbridge route was an extra term at school after A Levels, preparing for scholarship exams, in a conventional subject (English Literature, for me). This was not what I wanted. I discovered New Hall and its extraordinary entrance process: one paper, three essays “for which you could not possibly prepare”. I applied to read Moral Sciences (Philosophy), hoping to read Experimental Psychology for Part 2. I wrote my essays with exhilaration. The interview day was one of wonder: appreciating the architecture, having a wide-ranging and challenging conversation with Miss Murray, and then meeting two women who seemed to me almost magical, in their different ways. One began, “I’m Susan Haack. I’m a logician. If P hook Q . . .”.. The other, Jenny Teichman, began, “Ah! You’re the one who wrote that essay . . . . Now argue against it”. I was filled with amazement that this place and these people were real, and that I might be able to make good my early escape from school and join them. …continue reading…