Love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22.39)
WFH: DAY 1. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 pm: Working from Home (WFM) is what academic staff do for most of the Summer. It’s no big deal for us. But for others, the loss of one’s colleagues’ society – the conversations around coffee machine, and over lunch and a drink at the end of the day (if you’re a metropolitan) – will be a real challenge. Some people go ‘nuts’ when left on their own for even relatively short periods of time. As an only child, I learned to treasure my own company. The discipline helped prepare me to be an artist and scholar.
Back to email notifications, writing letters of support, setting up on-line networks, and converting my provision for internet access. (In the background: Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats (1970).) A letter to my Personal Tutees:
We’re living through an extraordinary period of contemporary history. The next few months will be a challenge to us all in many ways. Some of you may not have the opportunity to be with your family, either at home or abroad. That in itself can be stressful. For others, the loss of routine and daily contact with your peers will be especially difficult to bear. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other types of mental health problems, then you need to remain aware of how the external circumstances are effecting you. We’re all different. However, none of us has go through this on our own. As your Personal Tutor, I’ll be available if you need someone to give you a perspective on any difficulty (personal or academic) that you’re experiencing. Don’t hesitate to send me an email. I’m happy to have a Skype conversation with you, too.
In the meantime, it’ll be helpful to consider the following suggestions:
- If you’ve a query about a particular module that you’re taking, contact the co-ordinator in the first instance. They’ll have an insight that I won’t possess.
- If you’ve a query about more general academic matters, then contact me.
- Keep up with the emails that the university and Head of School are sending you.
- Keep busy, and observe a routine if you can. This is particularly important during periods of self-imposed quarantine. Work can be a medicine. At the very least, it’ll prevent you from naval staring.
- Keep in contact with your friends and relatives. Make it your business to find out how they’re coping. Support is a two-way responsibility.
- Above all, don’t worry. And, if at all possible, enjoy the opportunities for reflection that this alternative lifestyle imposes upon us.
10.45 am: I reviewed my existing on-line provision for my modules, up-loading sound files, revising content for the present period, and drinking mugs of tea endlessly:
This was hard work. By lunchtime, I’d sent only half of the emails on my list. The inbox ‘pu-ping’ed continually with confirmations of cancellation, advice about e-learning, and queries from students. Meanwhile, my office diary threw up reminders for the approach of classes, appointments, and module assessments that could no longer be honoured:
2.10 pm: Now, we’d have been meeting in the large lecture theatre to discuss the forthcoming final exhibition. How strange! Who could have envisaged the situation that we’re in now? I pressed on, email by email. Half way through the afternoon there was a flurry of irate correspondence exchanged between staff regarding a managerial matter higher up the food chain. When staff are united and express a righteous anger, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
7.30 pm: I picked up again with the document for my Vocational Practice module’s ‘presentation’ project. Students would no longer be able to give an audio-visual account of their work in front of their peers. It would have to be recorded at home and submitted as a sound and Powerpoint file instead. I also forwarded a new assessment project to replace one that cannot now be undertaken. I don’t think that I’ve ever sent and responded to so many emails in one day.