WFH: DAY 137. I’d slept fitfully. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: What was foreground became background. My primary orientation was now towards next week and beyond, as Covid-19–ready university prepared to set sail. Moving from planning to realisation is a colossal jump. The recent THES tweets represent a mixture of opinion regarding the doability and legitimacy (in the light of a possible incoming ‘second wave’) of what we’re embarking upon. There are ‘reasons to be fearful’ (to maladapt Ian Dury’s lyric). We can but try, as they say. I noticed, for the first time, the enthusiastic sounds of local school children in the play-yard, carried on the wind. My administrations proceeded to the soundtrack of the compositions in progress.
10.00 am: A personal tutorial:
10.45 am: Discussions to be had; letters to be written; responses to be made; documentation to be prepared; and appointments to be entered into the diary. 11.30 am: I heard the train leave the station. On with the revised induction programme. One of my main concerns is that, under the restrictions placed upon us by the pandemic, the delivery and reception of education will become a joyless affair. Staff and students must acknowledge the background anxiety and uncertainty, while endeavouring to focus on the job at hand and be optimistic about the not to distant future. Consolation: I’m helpless in the face of this temptation:
After lunch, having developed an inventory of things-to-do that would take me three days to work through, I pressed on with the rationalisation and realisation. One decision begat another begat many more. There were Powerpoint documents to design and fill, and information sheets to update. It was that time of the year again. Some things don’t change, even when the world crumbles and burns.
4.30 pm: The town crowds had thinned noticeably since my last trip. Likely, the tourists have left us to ourselves now. Next weekend, another type of visitor will be among us.
7.30 pm: I pressed on with the induction Powerpoint, and with my introductory talk. Usually, this is delivered extemporaneously. I trust myself to read the mood of the meeting, sense the unanswered questions, and deliver accordingly. I’d already addressed the present crisis in a letter to prospective MA students:
Whether you’re a recent undergraduate or have been out of education for some time, beginning a new chapter in your life is an exciting if daunting prospect. Setting out on that journey during this current pandemic makes it doubly so. As staff, we will make your safety (and ours) the paramount consideration. What we are about to embark upon will be a significant learning curve for us all. These are uncharted waters, not only for the School of Art and our university but also for every other university in the world right now.
We are committed to delivering a hybrid provision of face-to-face and online teaching. Clearly, we will be keeping the balance between the two under constant review. Flexibility and adaptability will be the watchwords. Together, as students and staff, we are committed to getting through this year both professionally and humanely. If you feel unsure, anxious, or overwhelmed by any aspect of your study (either in prospect or during the scheme), please don’t keep that burden to yourself
The task at induction is to engender the vision and determination necessary to pursue the degree schemes with confidence, ambition, and excitement.