7.30 am: ‘Get breakfast done!’. 8.30 am: The big day. The world reflected in the still pools of rain:
I passed the Polling Station on Stanley Road; business was already brisk. 9.00 am: A Skype tutorial with one of my ‘distance-learning’ PhD Fine Art student:
We talked about, among other things: Donald Judd’s way of speaking about his work in terms of paired-down and efficient propositions; how influential the Open University’s Modern Art and Modernism course, back in the 1970s, had been upon my thinking; Why Duchamp and Cage delighted in playing chess, and together (Was it because the game was very antithesis of chance procedure?); Is chance a type of determinacy at the sub-quantum level?
10.15 am: Onto the studio floor for a final week of third-year painting tutorials. Too much of our time as teachers in higher education is expended on the mental, emotional, and physical well being of students. They can’t be blamed for the predicaments that they find themselves in, on the whole; their generation is a product of an increasingly dysfunctional and underfunded social and institutional order. As staff, we have to be the ‘care in the system at the point of delivery’, as it were. Political emails pinged my inbox incessantly. I’d completed a postal box last week; I’m not longer open to persuasion. Go away!
Some students had abandoned ship a day shy of the end of term, officially. ‘Oh dear. What if the muse had descended upon the studio and you weren’t there to welcome her?’ They’d gone home early to vote. Yes! That was the reason. I could live with that thought. Throughout the day, I reminded each of their democratic obligations.
Throughout the day, the discussion has been directed towards the students’ vision of their final exhibition. Somewhere in the work that they’ve completed this last semester is the seed of that grand, consummatory gesture.
A bold Tweet, with which I’ve a great deal of sympathy:
The surveillance has been predicated on the suspicion that academics cannot be trusted to perform their obligations with integrity. And so we are all ‘tagged’ like criminals who’ve been released into the community. A few academics are lazy and inadequate, and ought not to be in post. But no amount of scrutiny will ever make them any better. Moreover, the best academics will remain so in spite of the intrusion.
2.00 am: An MA Personal tutorial followed by a return to the studio floor. The conversations gravitated towards their tasks for the Christmas vacation. ‘Of course you can have the afternoon on Christmas day off!’
How do you put the seal on a module? How do you demonstrate that you can bring the ship into harbour? Will the portfolio that you’ll have produced demonstrate that you’ve a clear sense of the work’s trajectory towards the final exhibition, come the January assessment? ‘John! Where do I vote?’
5.15 pm: End of term. 7.00 pm: An evening of post-teaching admin and desk clearing.