I've always admired Self: for (most of) his novels, but largely for his belligerent belief that intelligence and wit are more important that PR and political manoeuvring. In his explanation of why he's taking a post in education, he makes some excellent points - it's just a shame that none of the politicians tasked with running the education sector are anywhere near his intellect and commitment.
Having met more intellectually curious students than journalists, he makes the case for education as a cultural benefit to all:
and lambasts the narrow, reductive approach which masquerades as education policy these days:
This is all true. Courses are either becoming 'vocational' or pretending to do so - all our course documents are full of 'transferable skills' claims. This might be changing, however: one member of our university executive pointed out that as our students will have multiple jobs in their working lives, using systems and techniques which change faster than every before, specific technical skills learned at university will be outdated within a very short period, whereas the analytical, communication and research skills learned on a good course will always be 'relevant'.
Self remains sceptical of the rather airy-fairy critiques coming from Occupy and friends (like Marx, I suspect their analysis is good but their alternatives are slightly amorphous):
And so he sees his job to be asking the big question - the failure of neoliberalism. Finally, he expresses exactly what I feel my job is about (when it's going well, that is):
I don't necessarily think I'm 'more worldly' (though I am older than most of my students), but otherwise he sums it up. Now back to the administration… which I'm guessing he won't be expected to do. No 'maximum three learning outcomes' and 'blended learning entitlements' for Professor Self!
Here's the great man on Internet culture and anti humanism:
Other Self moments: his destruction of Richard Littlejohn and Nicky Campbell,
SELF: It is a 400 page... I've read 200 pages of it and that is a 200 page recruiting leaflet for the BNP.
LITTLEJOHN: Well, you can't comment until you have read the other 200.
SELF: Why? Does it suddenly turn into Tolstoy?
and his magnificent, sneering deconstruction of Olympics discourse on Newsnight: