May 27, 2019

Yesterday afternoon was absorbed by ironing. I’ve been a believer in this purgatorial chore ever since a female college friend, in the early 1980s, remarked to me that I looked as though I slept in my shirts.

7.15 am: Breakfast, and a period of reflection on some of the emotional undercurrents that’ve flowed through my life during the past years. There’re things that aren’t easily either surrendered or dissuaded or resolvable – connections and associations that can’t be severed, by either an act of will or will of action. Life is untidy like that. Some thunders rumble-on for many years.

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: This would be a social-media lite day; there were matters that demanded close attention. I can miss who’s tweeted what, my ‘friends” latest Facebook enthusiasms and outages, and Messenger miseries and moans for one day. The discipline of focus and concentration isn’t self-sustaining. (No discipline is.)

9.00 am: Back to marking:

I wrote in one of my feedback reports on the MA Vocational Practice Assessment Observation project: ‘The best [students] are always the most committed; and because they’re most committed, they’re the best.’ (The same is true of tutors too.) The students are charged with providing a fly-on-the wall overview of an undergraduate tutorial (in Fine Art) or seminar (in Art History). Partly, because the students are fresh to the proceedings and, partly, because the tutors have become too familiar with them, they offer some very pertinent insights. What’s obvious to them, is not to us. This has been a very valuable exercise.

Undergraduates aren’t prepared for the type of interrogation (albeit in a friendly and supportive environment) that they receive at the close of each semester’s studies in fine art. I wish they could be more robust and adversarial on behalf of their work. How can we better prepare them to give a stout defence of their studentship? We all of us need to develop a certain resilience to criticism in order to face the world outside of education. The student’s response to critical judgement is a measure of their maturity. The mature individual is not only far more aware than anyone else of their limitations, but also far more determined to overcome them.

Afternoon, I addressed my email again. I don’t feel inclined to respond immediately during a Bank-Holiday weekend. There has to be a limit to my availability. Academia is not a 24/7 job. Just because you have access to email and social mobility, doesn’t mean that you have to respond every time an email or message is posted to my account.

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May 25, 2019
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