sue watling

the piles of research books all over my floor

Guardian Witness invites photographs on the theme of a ‘Day in the Life of a PhD Student‘ I sent in this photo of my floor. A sign of the shrine my floor has become to the Phd. Virginia Wolfe famously called for ‘a room of one’s own’. Often missed is the rest of the sentence ‘A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.’ JK Rowling’s story of writing Harry Potter in a coffee shop with free heating suggests neither is totally essential, or maybe that’s writing of a different kind. In the absence of money, I do have a room and it has been taken over by my work.

Tsundoku is the Japanese word for buying books and letting them pile up unread. Tsundoku is Me.  It isn’t just the floor – there are piles on the cupboard, under the table, beside my bed. I’m a bookaholic. My name is Sue. If numbers left by the back door I wouldn’t notice. Show me a spreadsheet and I break out in a sweat. Give me words and I’m happy.

Recently I’ve been pe tsundoku - japanese word for buying books and letting them pile up unreadpersuadinga fellow part-time ‘PhD-er’ to blog. Saying it helps to formulate ideas and structure thoughts. The art of reflection is a core learning tool and I’m not sure we promote it enough because blog routines are effective ways to cultivate the reflective mind. Give it a regular outing. Typically, I didn’t find time to blog this Friday. The dog ate my blog or the internet swallowed my work.

We all need warning signs and for me, an absence of Friday blog post says something’s out of kilter. It’s a busy time. Forget January. New year is September. The establishment of EDEU (Educational Development and Enhancement Unit) means a new team with a new remit. Different faces and spaces and routines to learn like kettle etiquette and tea towel management. There are the open-office conundrums; air con versus heating and blinds up – blinds down plus important issues like the art of entering a tiny toilet without activating a misplaced hand dryer which wooshes into life unexpectedly before you’ve even shut the door.

We’re on the edge. Relocated to the heart of the student village, above the launderette where molecules of fabric softener free float through the air. There are trees and masses of bushes by the railway line, all changing colour. Across the road is the FosGoogle Satellite image showing the location of EDEU at One Campus Way sdyke with a tow path where I can walk by the water. I like it. But this week I didn’t find time to blog.

I had a plan. It was going to be about the Graduate Teachers Education Programme. How the room in the engineering building had rows of benches fixed to the floor supporting a didactive teaching style; a pedagogy of transmission. I would compare this with the invisible e-teacher; the subject of my research paper for ASCILITE14 but instead I was catching up with emails, writing up the actions from the first VLE-Operations Group (Action 1. Change name) and responding to Blackboard queries. In this new EDEU shaped world I’ve been escalated to the realm of the ‘tough ones’ and they do take up time.

So when is a blog post not a blog post? Only when it’s empty. Blogs are forgiving places. They don’t really care what you say so long as you say something and in the process, you’ll nearly always discover a different way of seeing or being which wasn’t there before. Try it and see. Now, excuse me please, apart from immersion in the back-end of Blackboard, I also have a few books to read :-)

 

 

 

 

 



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