Keeping it fresh I

Getting someone else to keep their finger on my pulse…

It’s only just occurred to me that this coming semester I don’t have any teaching, and even then it was only because I was thinking about this blog: truly my finger is on the pulse.

My lack of classtime this spring is down to my recent success with research funding, which means I’ll be spending a lot more time talking to civil servants, politicians and journalists about the wonderful world of Brexit. Great though that is, it’s a rather unusual feeling not to have a class.

Looking back, this’ll be only the second time since I started my career that I’ve had such a situation: the other was a formal sabbatical, during which I first met my lovely ALPSblog colleagues, so maybe that’s a good omen.

This time around, I’m not on sabbatical (despite what some line managers think I’m doing): I still have dissertation supervision for taught students, and tutoring duties, but it’s a small fraction of normal commitments.

The question is raises is how do I keep my hand in L&T, when my main route – teaching – isn’t there? It’s going to be October before I stand in front of a class again and as might be expected, one’s capacity atrophies without use.

At the same time, I will still be getting involved in L&T activities, including the Cyprus workshop at Easter and the EuroTLC in the summer. But such events – while good for exchanging ideas – aren’t really venues for practising.

The biggest danger is that L&T slips off the radar: I’ve got plenty of other things to be doing this year, and the risk is that October swings around and I end up just pulling the old notes off the shelf and doing the same old.

As much as my teaching is well-received, that’s not really what I want to be doing: I refuse to accept that I can’t be doing better or that my way is the only way. From long experience, I know that refreshing content and approaches is good both for me and for my students: it keeps an edge to our interactions that rehashing (in the nicest sense) doesn’t quite manage.

So I’m going to try something a bit more thoughtful this spring: I’m going to engage in a structured re-design of my negotiation course for the autumn. Unless I have something more pressing to write about, I’ll write about what I’m planning to do, and how I’m planning to do it.

You’re very welcome to join in, in the spirit of collaboration, and it’ll do me good to revisit things in a more open and prolonged manner. Certainly, it’ll have the advantage of avoiding that September rush/panic.

So next week, I’ll write about what I do now.