Well there are two three paths you can go by…

…but in the long run/There’s still time to change the road you’re on. – Led Zep

Here’s a post on this blog from 2005, when we were deciding whether to stay in Canada, go to Scotland or come back to Australia:

And here’s one from 2009, when a similar dilemma presented itself, but we ended up staying here:

That time has come around again: the feet have started to itch, and a couple of opportunities have presented themselves, so we once again have three ‘possible futures’ in front of us.

Not sure how they got my name, but someone at Harvard emailed me directly to say they’re looking for a person in ‘learning technologies’ – which is where a lot of my recent work has been – and could I suggest anyone good or did I want to apply myself. I suggested someone good, and applied myself! It would be pretty amazing if it happened, but I’m not sure what the chances are1. I could totally do it, and bring a wide range of experience and ability to the role, but of course for one of the world’s top universities the competition is going to be fierce{/Tyra}.

There’s always the possibility of staying here, of course. I have a great job at one of Australia’s top universities that I enjoy a lot, am up for promotion soon, have great colleagues and a lot still to do here. It’s the most probable outcome, and by no means a bad one. It would mean staying closer to the girls over the next few years, since no matter where we go they’ll probably stay around here.

But the Harvard application had got the feet itching, so I just looked around a bit at some other interesting possibilities. We’d talked about going to work in Brunei for well over a decade – it’s a very cool small country in our region which I might post more about later. There’d never been a job available, but this time when I looked Universiti Brunei Darussalam, the one major state university, was advertising for an Associate Professor of Physics Education… which is also something I’m very well suited to do. So I’ve fired off an application for that, as well.

It’d be lovely to get offered both roles, and have to choose… I suspect the timing and everything else will conspire against that outcome.

The three futures are very different:

Harvard would be amazing, and would give me much more access to be internationally influential and build a reputation, build links, gain large grants and do important research, and so on. It would be interesting in that we do tend to move on every 5-7 years or so, but always upward… I have about 18 years of my career left before retirement age, but there are really not that many upward moves as an academic from Harvard! It’s also Boston, which would be culturally interesting and a nice area to live in, and has seasons including below-freezing conditions and snow… white Christmas, but not so much with the all-year motorcycling.

Brunei would be amazing in a different way. It’s a great university and a really good place to teach. Most Bruneians speak English, and the medium of instruction would be English, but we’d want to learn Malay as well. The country is very small – a few hundred thousand people – and very wealthy due to oil and natural gas reserves. There’s no personal income tax and a rich set of benefits for academics (though a lower salary than Harvard so the finances all come out in the wash). It’s tropical, on the South China Sea, and has great beaches and rainforests. In terms of lifestyle and outdoor living, and in terms of the ability to really make a contribution to the development of the nation, it would also offer great benefits.

Staying here is also not a bad thing: we’d want to make some changes because Sue and I have both been working too hard and not enjoying life enough, but that’s doable. Certainly I’m very blessed and privileged in the job I have, which allows me huge autonomy and work I really enjoy. And Cassie is likely to be here for at least another year and a bit, and then to still at least be in Queensland and Alex has another couple of years study – and then who knows where she’ll be?

Uncertainty is… uncertain, but it’s very nice to have options and choices, and I definitely prefer it over a life lived all in one place, where a personhas some ceretainty about where they’ll be and what they’ll be doing for the next few decades…

  1. And one of the things I’m aware of is that, if I get on the short list and they google me, this post may well come up… {waves to the nice Harvard people} – “you know I’m the best possible guy for the job!”

2 Comments on “Well there are two three paths you can go by…

  1. You glorious pedant (in the nice sense) I’m reading your blogs!

    And envying you. Mostly.

    In all yer travels, if you even come close to Georgia, Annette and I would like you
    and your family to be our guests.


    Clayton, Georgia, USA, among the oldest mountains on Earth.

  2. Great to hear from you, sir: and I’d be delighted to take up your offer of hospitality and take the chance to chat with you face-to-face if the opportunity ever presents itself.

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