If you’re interested in understanding how we got to where we are with tertiary education, Ruth, Roger and Me by Andrew Dean is a must read. The author rightly points out that, for many people, the current state of affairs is “without a history” and so he has done us all a great service by providing one.
Like all such efforts, this history is provided from a point of view and so invites careful, critical review. Wonderfully, Mr Dean has issued that invitation himself.
“A book like this could be written and rewritten a hundred different ways – I hope that it is, in fact, by others with a set of capacities different from my own. But I am writing the story that I know. It is not the last – or only – one that could be told.”
The book itself is organised principally around two concepts, ‘discomfort’ and ‘disconnection’. In essence, the first covers what is the philosophical grounding for many contemporary policies – i.e. if we have to pay to access something, we will be more careful or use only what is essential. The second, ‘disconnection’, explains (very well) the supremacy of the individual in much of the thinking behind the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s.
Using these two concepts, Mr Dean examines the past and ties it to the present day in a very relatable way, “describing and accounting for the conditions that we inhabit”. He explores the origins of the student loan scheme, the issues we face as a result today and much more.
While the arguments outlined in the book are cohesive and considered, the gift of the book is much more than its content. Mr Dean is articulate and authentic in his expression. This is a young man who leaves you with a sense of his deep desire to see the world become a better place for everyone. As one reviewer puts it:
“Dean brings an acute sense of how the world is and how it ought to be, of what we have lost and what we might gain”.
Regardless of what your own brand of politics might be, Ruth, Roger and Me is one of those books that makes you really want to meet the author and have a yarn over coffee, confident you will come away having learnt something and richer for the experience.
You can buy it on Amazon – US$3.75 for the Kindle version.