March 17, 2020

‘Best in bad times, John’

8.00 am: My professional life is now lived hour-by-hour. I’m making it up as I go along, just like everyone else. As one journalist remarked on Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘There’s no end-game’. As in times of war, it’ll only be over when the energy is defeated. How we live our lives in the next weeks and months will have profound consequences for our attitude to one another when we return to some semblance of normality. 8.45 am: Emergency emails dispatched, I turned to prayers (as simple as that) from the Book of Common Prayer‘s section on ‘The Visitation of the Sick’:

9.30 am: Off to the School for a 10.00 am ‘Cabinet War Room’ meeting. These are unprecedented times. It was necessary to take a steer independently of the university. Face-to-face teaching was too dangerous the light of what we now know. Rather than wait until March 23 to initiate full online teaching, we would move to it tomorrow. For staff, Wednesday will be Day 1 of working at home. There’re no models to follow, no predictable outcomes, no principles other than the ones that we were inventing in situ.

It’ll be interesting to see how HE’s move to online provision will influence the way that we deliver education in the future. Mercifully, we have the software and devices to help us through this crisis.

11.30 am: Following on the heels of one meeting, I held another with my Vocational Practice group. We needed to discuss alternative assessment arrangements, and I wanted their input. 12.00 pm: I headed home to begin notifying students of my designs for online provision. The present crisis is capable of paralysing us with anxiety. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a sense of purpose, a routine, and work. Most artists worth their salt are already conditioned to operate in isolation for long periods. But we all need friends to support, and be supported by, us.

For the remainder of the afternoon, I posed emails, conceived of alternatives, and already began missing my students.

7.30 pm: Back to virus admin, scotching rumours, communicating ideas, drawing people together, and lending a helping-hand where I could.

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