April 21, 2020

WFH: DAY 22. 8.15 am: A communion. 9.00 am: The start of a day of MA tutorials for the Exhibition and Portfolio modules. Inevitably, there were a few technical hitches. (I’d been expecting far more.) The hard part is discerning who, of the participants, is the cause. Often, no one is to blame. At least there was the messaging-mode as a fall back. It’s more measured and deliberate, and leaves a residue.

The worst aspect for those who were hoping to exhibit their work next month is not the production of the work but dealing with the disappointment that it won’t go public. It’s rather like having a baby that’s immediately taken from you and placed in an incubator. Meanwhile, the students labour in bedrooms and on kitchen table like monks in a scriptorium. Some have been remarkably productive.

10.30 am: A ‘live chat’ induction in preparation for an on-line application advisory session tomorrow afternoon. 11.15 pm: ‘More tea, please!’ On with writing, before my next tutorial. 12.00 pm: ‘Let’s try that again, with sound this time!’

2.00 pm: An afternoon of Portfolio tutorials. The first two were held using text only. Not being able to read the small ‘tells’ of facial expressions inhibits my response. I can still mirror thoughts, but not apply remedies to problems with enough precision. In message-based tutorials, the delay between typing and reading, for both participants, stalls the evolution of questions and solutions. Patience is required. It’s a slower process. But it encourages the tutee and tutor to frame their responses more precisely before pressing ‘enter’. That’s a worthwhile discipline. One ought always to pause and reflect before offering any advice under any conditions in life, anyway.

Who would’ve envisaged teaching and learning under these conditions. Some of the mature students are now home-educators of their children, while at the same time as being home-educated by me. I take my hat off to them. They’re balancing many competing priorities.

4.30 pm: ‘Walkies’.

7.30 pm: The composition beckoned (again). I’ve learned to yield all other plans when I receive the call. We’re, at best, servants of art.

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