The concept of the work/family balance is popular in politics at the moment. I’m finding it a popular topic at home too, mainly because I’m finding it very hard to feel good about it. The balance seems to be exactly right…..for a micro-instant as it swings from one ridiculous extreme to another. Studying a Graduate Certificate in Management (who knows, it might grow in to an MBA one day if I pour enough water on it) is at times enjoyable, and is certainly useful in my job. Am I doing it spectacularly well? Most of the time no, but I’m doing it well enough that it doesn’t become an all-encompassing obsession. I have one inlaw (a very nice man, as it happens) who is studying at the moment. When we try to catch up with him the answer is often something like “he’ll be free in about five weeks when he’s finished all of his assignments and exams”. Now, I do have some admiration for that sort of dedication, but unless you really need the perfection of top marks, is it worth it? I’ve heard exams described as an important learning tool because “life is like an exam – you don’t often get a second chance”. What a load of bollocks. Life might be like an exam, but it’s an open book exam! If you don’t know the answer you can look it up, or ask someone else. The important of post-graduate learning is the building blocks of the subject that you are trying to master – the thinking processes and core principles and theories that enable you to get the right answer when you need it. In my Grad Cert, my two subject marks so far have been 63 (management theory and practice) and 75 (marketing practice). My mark for my first assignment in the present unit (business accounting and finance) was 83 (but I have the second assignment and the exam to go). Could I have done any better in these units and assignments? You bet your sweet bananas I could have! The reality is that each of these results is a reflection not only of what work I have done and how well I understand the concepts of the unit, but also the compromises that I have been prepared to make for the studying process. I will only give up so much family time and work time, so study has to take a back seat at times. Does this mean I will top my class? No. Does it mean I have the chance to remain sane while I complete my study? Probably. Seems worth it to me.