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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 20/05/2005

I spend my life meeting lots of new people and I知 regularly asked if I知 a psychologist. In fact when I知 giving a talk I often have to go out of my way to ensure that I知 not introduced as a psychologist. Given my interest in confidence and positive psychology it is a reasonable assumption. And this has got me thinking about how in the course of my life I致e often been in a position when I wasn稚 conventionally 倉ualified for the work I was doing. For example, when I was doing my Ph.D at Edinburgh University my thesis topic was essentially philosophical but I was undertaking it in a Politics Department and I had never taken any courses on philosophy other than some political theory options. Then when I went to work in current affairs at the BBC I was aware that, unlike many of my colleagues, I didn稚 have any training or experience as a journalist. And then when I went into training and development I realised that my background wasn稚 usual for most people doing this type of work.

I致e always experienced the fact that I wasn稚 conventionally qualified for the work I was doing as a lack and as something which dented my confidence somewhat. But I知 now beginning to see that, it may well be an advantage. If you haven稚 come through the conventional route you have to ask more questions. Nor have you been 奏rained to see that activity in a certain way or share basic assumptions. You have to rely on personal experience and common sense. And you bring different thinking, new knowledge and different ways of doing things. Talking to Professor Sarah Carter, from the Hunter Centre, recently got me thinking even more on the topic. She mentioned that all the really new, exciting thinking is happening between disciplines. In other words, it is a result of cross-fertilisation. The economists growing interest in happiness is a good example of this. All I can say is - it痴 about time. The academic world for too long has encouraged narrow specialism. It has created scores of academics who aren稚 prepared to say anything outside their, often minute, area of interest let alone come up with challenging thinking. Of course, there are definite advantages in going deeply into topics but there is also advantage in breadth as it gives us joined up thinking. This is much more in tune with the intellectual method historically preferred in Scotland as there was always a strong belief in the advantages of a general education. Indeed Scottish universities were once run along these lines but were forced down the specialist English route in the 19th and early 20th centuries. So I make no apologies for not being a psychologist. I知 a broad thinker and proud of it.

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