14 weeks teaching coming to a close and various educational observations emerge: a) I love teaching young people – have taken tutorials for about 65 first year PR students and second year radio, journalism and advertising students. (The non-PR people were all pretty sceptical to start with but realised it was OK to be sceptical so began to join in.) I like their mix of confidence and diffidence, their willingness to learn and revise their opinions, without being passive or over-deferential. They’ve taught me loads of stuff about Australian music festivals and media channels. We’ve had great discussions about everything from reputation management to nudge theory. They’ve all done presentations for a campaign of their own devising – a great selection from Quantas to raising blood donation rates – pretty impressive considering they’ve only had 3 months in the subject, they worked really hard to make an impression. A pleasure to teach, as I told them last week.

b) I don’t have the physical stamina to teach and can only manage current workloads by spending every weekend in bed, God knows how schoolteachers manage, my face to face teaching hours are not so great but the combination of an 8 am class and the high volume of emails from other students has been exhausting. I will know better next year about what I can and can’t take on. The upside is that the way Australian terms are worked, or here anyway, is that we have one very heavy teaching term (or session), one light one and one research session. My load has been made unmanageable by the number of papers I’ve been editing, proofing, updating, rewriting on top of normal teaching. Again, a lesson for next year – don’t write so many papers in the research period if you don’t want to spend the next 6 months dealing with the follow up stuff. Next session looks much more manageable and should allow me to get on with my book, in sore need of serious attention. Have to decide whether to go to Euprera conference in Istanbul in September – requires me to write another paper (two have been accepted but only one is doable) as well as complicated travel from here. But the theme is professionalism – the subject of my book so hopefully it will feed into the book one way or another. But first, I really really really need a holiday….

Actually the other interesting development in past 3 months has been the re-enactment of a drama that has taken place at almost every educational institution I’ve ever worked in, namely the transition from training to higher education. Because so many of the core courses are labour intensive, like drama, theatre technicalities, radio skills, TV production etc there is a strong attachment to hands-on approaches and in some quarters a hostility to research or theory. I’ve been able to contribute the experience of having these debates in the past and particularly that of embedding theory in all degree courses to the enhancement of staff and student experience and outcomes. My sense from this term’s teaching is that students are much brighter than is often expected and relish mind-expanding ideas. This is culture change stuff and I know now that it can’t be rushed, but good to be part of that discussion.

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