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 Post subject: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 17 Jun 2017, 14:23 
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Another thread made me think of this.

Mary Lou becoming an archaeologist seemed to me to be something very last minute and out of the blue.

Jo was going to be a writer from when she was just turning thirteen. Len was always going to be a teacher and Con a writer. Margot being a nun was foreshadowed from when she was fourteen. Daisy had decided on medicine from the time she was fifteen, I think. Even with the less prominent characters, Richenda was always going in for ceramics. Ruey becoming a games mistress was foreshadowed with all the lacrosse business in Ruey. Verity was established as having an exceptional singing voice in Three Go.

But there never seems to be a hint of what ambitions Mary Lou might have. She's not shown to be outstanding at, or even especially interested in, any particular subject.

Was there some foreshadowing which I missed, due to reading the books out of order, or was it a case of EBD realising at the last minute that she needed to say something about Mary Lou's plans, and that such a prominent character needed a career that would be out of the ordinary, and coming up with archaeology?


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 17 Jun 2017, 15:15 
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I think EBD wanted M-L to do something adventurous like her father, but decided that there weren't any openings for women explorers, so chose something that she would be able to do. Remember that there were far fewer jobs available for women 60 years ago than now.

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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 17 Jun 2017, 19:17 
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A large majority of teenagers have no idea what they want to do when they leave school. SLOC certainly didn't! So, in a way, Mary-Lou is more normal than many of the others, who seem very settled in their ideas quite early on. I was one of the few in my form who knew, because from being tiny I wanted to teach.

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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 17 Jun 2017, 19:46 
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MaryR wrote:
A large majority of teenagers have no idea what they want to do when they leave school. SLOC certainly didn't! So, in a way, Mary-Lou is more normal than many of the others, who seem very settled in their ideas quite early on. I was one of the few in my form who knew, because from being tiny I wanted to teach.


This. I went from wanting to be a nurse, to a music teacher, to...working in an office when I did actually leave school, before going to college to study games development, by which point I was 21 and four years out of school. Also, exam results can force a rethink, as happened to a friend of mine who wanted to be a lawyer, until his Higher results came in and he hadn't got the required grades. Not that that would ever happen to a CS girl, especially not a star pupil like Mary-Lou. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 17 Jun 2017, 23:23 
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A large majority of teenagers have no idea what they want to do when they leave school.

Oh, yes, and I agree also that EBD wanted to give her an adventurous sounding career. It's the last minute nature of it, and the fact that we get no hint of the thought processes that led up to it, that seems surprising in such a major character.

Mary Lou dominates the series in a way that even schoolgirl Joey didn't, yet other than her being a good swimmer we know less about her interests and aptitudes than we do about many lesser characters.

Her father's profession was entomologist; the exploration was a by-product of that. And there were women who went exploring and adventuring as a by product of careers or interests in a wide range of fields. All that was needed was money, of which Mary Lou had some, and self-assurance, which she had in abundance.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2017, 02:23 
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Mary-Lou first mentions archaeology as a potential career in Does it Again when she's fifteen and in Upper Fourth, so she's thinking of it a few years before she starts university. In New Mistress she says that as a kid she wanted to be an explorer like her father, but has shifted to archaeology, which is also kind of like exploring. That sounds pretty reasonable - around 14 or 15 is when a lot of people start thinking seriously about future careers in a more practical and specific way.

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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2017, 08:23 
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The more unexpected thing to my mind is that she goes to Oxford - though most CS girls who go to University do, of course :D - because Oxford really wasn't the premier place for the subject, and EMBD does seem to prefer that. The obvious (and longer-established) choices would have been Cambridge, which was the first university in the UK to teach archaeology, or London.

Moreover, I'm not even sure you could do a first degree in archaeology at Oxford University at that date, although I can't remember whether Mary-Lou is explicitly stated to be reading Archaeology as such. According to the University's website, here, Oxford created posts for Professors of both European Prehistory and Archaeology of the Roman Empire in the 1940s, and there was an Institute of Archaeology founded in 1961, but this seems to have been primarily for research and was made up of staff and post-graduate students. Apparently the Undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology was established in 1992 - they were late to the party with History of Art as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2017, 15:31 
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Noreen wrote:

Moreover, I'm not even sure you could do a first degree in archaeology at Oxford University at that date, although I can't remember whether Mary-Lou is explicitly stated to be reading Archaeology as such. According to the University's website, here, Oxford created posts for Professors of both European Prehistory and Archaeology of the Roman Empire in the 1940s, and there was an Institute of Archaeology founded in 1961, but this seems to have been primarily for research and was made up of staff and post-graduate students. Apparently the Undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology was established in 1992 - they were late to the party with History of Art as well.


You couldn't.

I considered Archaeology as a degree and Oxford was still not offering it in the late 1970s.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2017, 16:48 
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Thanks for that, Victoria :D. I suppose one only really comes across these things (or lack of them) when in the process of applying for courses in some of the more obscure subjects - and EMBD, like many other people, probably assumed that everywhere taught everything. When I was looking at History of Art courses in the late 1960s I was mildly surprised that Oxford didn't have one, and had thought archaeology wasn't available either, but wasn't absolutely sure.

For those who like to explain away these things in the books, maybe we have to assume that Mary-Lou read Ancient History - or maybe she went to Cambridge really, but forgot to tell her author...


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2017, 17:23 
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I read in a magazine some years ago a piece of advice from someone wise, aimed at those aged around 18. The person (sorry, I don't remember who it was) said that there were three things which were important:

1. Remember that you do not have to know at 18 what you want to do with the rest of your life.
2. Acquire a good working knowledge of at least one foreign language.
3. Get a driving licence.

I could manage the second at 18 and got round to the third after a couple of years but the first would have been welcome advice for me at that age. It might have stopped me choosing a job from the very limited range of things I had heard of and which I rarely felt comfortable with. I'm sure many people, like me, have a vague idea of what any given profession might be like but it sometimes takes a long while to discover the downsides.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2017, 17:52 
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Quote:
Mary-Lou first mentions archaeology as a potential career in Does it Again when she's fifteen and in Upper Fourth, so she's thinking of it a few years before she starts university.

Oh, thank you, Jennifer. Does it Again was one of the last I managed to get my hands on. That reference must have passed me by because I already knew ML was going in for archaeology, having read the later books.

Up to WW2, archaeology seems to have been something you learned on the job, if you could find an established archaeologist willing to take you on a dig. I read a biography of Max Mallowan once which was very interesting on the subject of archaeology in Mesopotamia in the 1920s and 1930s. I also recommend Lady Mallowan's* memoir Come Tell Me How You Live, for anyone who's not familiar with it.
*As it seems appropriate to refer to her, in this context.

Quote:
I read in a magazine some years ago a piece of advice ... aimed at those aged around 18. The person... said that there were three things which were important...

For girls, it used to be 'learn shorthand and typing'. Not bad advice; a young woman who could do shorthand and typing could always find temporary work, whatever her long term ambitions, and career wise, getting a job as a shorthand typist somewhere like the BBC was often the first step on the ladder.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2017, 22:55 
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I am glad Mary-Lou did something like archaeology. It suits her somehow.

I think young people are expected to make choices regarding career at much too young an age.

My daughter went to uni at 17 and bombed her first degree. At the age of 23 she is graduating next week with a degree in history but still has not got a clue what career she wants.

I wonder too if people are not sometimes better to do something that they like and which matches their personality rather than their brain power, if that makes sense. What is the use of having a highly paid job if you do not like what you are doing?

I did a comnercial course in school, and for the most part liked office work. I was lucky. The people were not always nice but mostly I liked the work.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2017, 09:18 
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Audrey25 wrote:
I wonder too if people are not sometimes better to do something that they like and which matches their personality rather than their brain power, if that makes sense. What is the use of having a highly paid job if you do not like what you are doing?


I think that makes a lot of sense, Audrey. I also think that there is far too much pressure on people to 'progress' out of the jobs they have chosen into management. In my and no doubt many other people's experience, people who were competent at their jobs are not necessarily competent managers.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2017, 09:53 
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I do like the fact that young people nowadays are not expected to go straight from school into a permanent job, and then come under pressure to stay in that job because of security, building up a pension etc.

That was the prevalent thought when I was leaving school and daughters, in particular, were pressurised to take jobs in the bank, the Civil Service, Insurance companies etc which would have huge security attached to them. As a result a lot of people spent many miserable years in work they were totally unsuited to.

I know that probably still happens, but hopefully to a lesser degree.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2017, 10:29 
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I figure the three pieces are

1) Figure out what you like doing.
2) Figure out what you're actually good at doing.
3) Figure out how to combine the two to make a living.

All three are important. If you hate doing something, or the lifestyle associated with it, you'll be miserable. But just because you love something doesn't mean you're good at it. And there are a lot of careers where you can love it, be good at it, and still not be able to support yourself.

I think part of the problem with career selection in modern times is sheer choice. Historically, most people did pretty much what their parents did, and started preparing for it at a fairly young age. Now, there's this incredible range of options, many of which involve years of training. And in the past "get a university degree" was a pretty good ticket to a decent career, but that's a lot less true now.

I was reading some interesting stuff recently on the danger of the "find your passion" type of career advice. For one thing, the ability to find a passionate career rather than just a job is very class dependent, and for another, there are an awful lot of people out there who do jobs because it pay the rent, and supports other things they like more. So you get young people with wildly unrealistic expectations about how much they're supposed to enjoy their job on one hand, and people burning out on things they are passionate about on the other.

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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2017, 12:22 
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Noreen wrote:
For those who like to explain away these things in the books, maybe we have to assume that Mary-Lou read Ancient History - or maybe she went to Cambridge really, but forgot to tell her author...


I don't think she could have just done Ancient History either - it was part of Greats (Litterae Humaniores) and you had to do either philosophy or Latin and Greek as well. I always assumed that she had actually read History, although I see from my Examination Decrees that by 1970 there was a Preliminary Examination in Geology, and she could have followed that up with Honours in Human Sciences.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2017, 12:49 
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Victoria wrote:
Noreen wrote:

Moreover, I'm not even sure you could do a first degree in archaeology at Oxford University at that date, although I can't remember whether Mary-Lou is explicitly stated to be reading Archaeology as such. According to the University's website, here, Oxford created posts for Professors of both European Prehistory and Archaeology of the Roman Empire in the 1940s, and there was an Institute of Archaeology founded in 1961, but this seems to have been primarily for research and was made up of staff and post-graduate students. Apparently the Undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology was established in 1992 - they were late to the party with History of Art as well.


You couldn't.

I considered Archaeology as a degree and Oxford was still not offering it in the late 1970s.


Oh well, bang goes the authenticity of my Man on the Motorbike drabble then! Please treat it as an extended EBDism!


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2017, 12:53 
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Young people nowadays often don't go into permanent jobs when they leave school or university, not because they are hedging their bets, but because there are so few "decent" jobs. This maybe does not apply in London or similar areas but it does apply in a lot of the country. Also, so many jobs in cultural areas etc are being cut because of austerity measures.

Maybe, too, the reason people are not staying in jobs for life is not through choice but because they are being made redundant.

Our education system is all wrong. Our children are taught what they need to know to pass exams. They are not taught what is good to get on in life or the great wealth of knowledge surrounding a subject.

Probably this is the way it has to be and they can study up on a subject later but so many people think learning finishes at the end of their formal education.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2017, 17:18 
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I never really knew what I wanted to do, and so my mum shoehorned me into retail work. Her reason for that was that she didn't think I'd enjoy office work enough. As a result of that, I've spent most of my working life doing a job I detest, for a pathetic wage that has not enabled me to save up very much money.

I'd honestly rather have had a job I didn't like that at least paid me a little more!

Only now, in my early forties, have I finally realised what I would like to do. Sadly I'm not able to do much with it for the next couple of years, as I am now a SAHM - I can't just dodge off to college or uni to pick up the qualifications I need.


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 Post subject: Re: Mary Lou and Archaeology
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2017, 18:15 
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What is an SAHM please?

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