Friday, 16 November 2012

This time of year

"You haven't blogged in two weeks", Staffan says. I know. I have been too busy living my life.

I know that it sounds hopelessly trivial, but I can't remember when I was so busy. I am on study leave next term which means that I have all my teaching this term. Foolishly enough, I have developed a new strand through doctoral research training, and now I have to teach it - this term. I have also developed a new masters elective and have to teach a session, and I have volunteered to do a half session for another elective - just because it interests me. And because I am involved in these electives they are taught this term. I am also teaching everything else I normally teach throughout the year this term. This term is the most stressful for masters students because they have to submit their first assigments on the last day of the term. I have a feeling that they haven't really realised that the term ends in two weeks, but when they realise it on Monday I will be drowned in drafts. I am also drowned in PhD drafts although they are not seasonal. Part-time students' essays are seasonal, although out of sync with the full-time students. Some students get extensions for their essays and get totally out of sync. 

A bunch of over-ambitious students have asked me to do a crash course on Bakhtin. I couldn't say no to it, could I, and I enjoyed it. Then they asked to do Lacan, and when we finished they asked to do Eco. It is developing into a special seminar. I really, really enjoy it, but it has to be squeezed in between everything else.

I have three upgrades this term. An upgrade is a rite of passage that, for the assessor, involves reading and evaluating a registration document. A registration document is a 20,000-word project description that allows a probationary PhD student to continue. I cannot fail the student just because I feel grumpy. But I actually need to read their blessed upgrades and say something helpful. Something formative. Something they will remember for the redt of their life ("That grumpy old assessor...")

I also have a viva coming. A viva is the oral examination of a PhD thesis. I have no role in it. I am not even allowed into the room. I will sit outside and feel anxious until teh student tumbles out.

I also have on my desk a PhD thesis that I am examining in another university- no date yet. I am also examining a PhD in Norway - no date yet.

On top of all that I have the regular and irregular meetings, in Faculty and College. I don't even want to think of it, but in a couple of weeks I will have to read applications for post-doc positions in College. There are typically about 300 of those, although some will be in microbiology and chemistry, and I don't have to read them. Meanwhile, I am reading applications for masters and PhD. All applications are electronic these days, and it works well when it does, but if you have typed in comments which then disappear it is highly frustrating.I cannot be grumpy and reject a student just because the electronic site is uncooperative.

In a moment of weakness I also promised to give a paper at a student symposium.

Now you understand why this blog post is so brief.

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