September 23, 2020

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Starting another academic year always feels the first day of the new school year, when I was young. There’s a sense of anticipation and dread in equal measure. I got my kit together, charged everything that moved, ensured my devices were functioning (and clean), uploaded back-up for everything I may need today (just in case), and packed my rucksack. (Oh! And not forgetting a spare mask, too.) The old familiarities, routines, and unconscious mechanisms of mind and behaviour simply won’t do in this new world. Every step, confrontation, entrance and exit, beginning and end of an action, must be deliberately considered beforehand and in the execution. In my mind, I walked through the afternoon’s postgraduate induction meeting. This would need to be divided into two groups and delivered twice.

11.45 am: Off to School (It’s lovely to say that again.) to set up for the afternoon. ‘Here we go!’:

1.00 pm: Dr Heuser and I met the MA newbies (fourteen in all) in the concourse and, after they’d duly signed-in and washed their hands, were split into two groups and marched to their classrooms. I’d plumbed for the large lecture theatre:

It was a bizarre occasion: like a convention for bandits. I’d met new people, but hadn’t a clue what they looked like behind their masks. I quickly clocked to the reality that you can’t project the voice through a three-layer mask. Thus, I kept 3 meters away from them, and donned my lousy visor (through which wasn’t possible to see clearly). Removing the mask diminished my own safety but not theirs. I suspected that this venue would not serve our purposes. This is where we’ll all learning on the job. I sense that the semester ahead will be one of constant negotiation and reflection between tutees and tutor as we together work towards a different experience of education.

4.30 pm: The late afternoon walks continued. (Has this, now, become an unbreakable habit?) 7.30 pm: The afternoon had generated enough admin to keep me busy until the end of the day. Emails passed between the students and myself, ‘live’. The effort was worth it. By the end of the week, they’ll all be ensconced and facing their future at the School confidently.

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