Laurie Taylor Column

September 5, 2003

"Students can gain degrees after taking only a third of their courses by paying universities to assess their life experiences" - THES, August 29

Yes, do come in. You must be Adam Bunting. Good. My name is Dr Groat, and I'm the Apel assessor for the philosophy department here at Poppleton. You know what Apel stands for?

It means I pay you money to assess the value of my life experiences.

Absolutely right. My job is to consider how many credits your life experiences might contribute towards a philosophy degree. Perhaps you'd like to tell me about any relevant experiences.

Well, I went to Paris a couple of years ago and spent the best part of three months thinking about the meaning of life and how we could really become ourselves only by making choices.

Excellent. That looks like a definite experiential credit for our existentialism module. Any other philosophical experience?

I worked in a supermarket for 18 months, and my job was to decide where everything went. Did you put Marmite among the jams, or did you put it with the Oxo?

Excellent stuff, Adam. I think we can safely say goodbye to your formal logic module. Anything else?

Well, I've spent five years telling my mother that her arguments about God existing are a load of nonsense.

They're not consistent with empirical reality?

That's right.

Jolly good. Well, that's logical positivism nicely wrapped up.

Any other philosophical experience? No?

Then, I'm delighted to tell you that we can knock either one or two years off your intended philosophy course. It all depends on whether you want to go for the Apel basic fee of £100 or the very special advanced fee of £200.

I'll go for the £200.

Now, that's what I call "learning from experience".

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