Waiting to Inhale

Monday

Back to the grind with a normal week hopefully uninterrupted by the tail end of this filthy cold.  Drove to uni first thing to work in the library for the morning to spend a few hours on my proposal, though the frequent snow showers suggested that perhaps heading home before too long might be a good idea.  Had a read through the feedback from my supervisor and decided that actually it wasn’t that critical, it’s mostly about polishing – so that’s what I’ll do.  Although as he’s off at the end of the month, looks like my deadline in next Thursday – so going to be pretty busy for the next ten days.

In between the work had to deal with a sad and unpleasant chore at home, that left me a bit emotionally wreaked – so by 5pm I had to call it a day as I just wasn’t producing any more.

Tuesday

Today I tweaked the research proposal as far as I could, while I waited on my other supervisor to mail his comments for amendments   Despite being promised for “this afternoon” as of this writing I’m still hanging around waiting for them.  It has resulted in the afternoon largely being a bit of a waste, although I did spend a while sorting out my filed papers and handouts.  I can see at this rate I’m going to end up working over the weekend on this thing.  Don’t you just love it when you key dependency is someone else doing their work on time so you don’t have to spend your free time doing work that could be done in office hours?

Perhaps this is all part of the training towards becoming an academic, but hey some of us have lives as well.  After the sadness of yesterday have found myself fairly chipper today, thus this information outage hasn’t brought be to a crushing low.  Maybe that will come when he tells me I need to rewrite the whole damned thing again *cynic*

Wednesday

Nope, still no feedback – but Mrs Llama kindly read the proposal last night and pointed out a multitude of tiny flaws which I’ve corrected now.  Tea and llama stars to her!  Since I have class all this afternoon, I’ve punted the revised proposal back to the supervisors – there’s not really the time now to just sit on my heels and wait.  Time to spur them to some action.

[Later] Well that was a cracking afternoon.  First off a two hour workshop on lecturing.  As one of the very few people in the class with real teaching experience it was something I could really get my teeth into.  I’ve always loved teaching (which was a surprise, never thought I’d enjoy it so much) and so the chance to reflect on what makes a good or bad teacher, and how we can all work towards these skills was good.  Very interactive session which always gets my blood pumping.  Interestingly we were being encouraged to work towards Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA); so I was able to sit there a little smug since I’ve been a fellow of the HEA for the past decade!

What perhaps wasn’t so great was the lack of opportunities that exist for teaching within NTU itself; something I’d run into before Christmas in the PhD discussion group.  While I’m hopeful something will come along, as I’m keen to contribute within my dept in some way, it’s not guaranteed.  I think this really concerns some of my course mates even more, especially where they lack any kind of formal teaching experience.  The suggestion that we could do some volunteer work in secondary schools thought – no thanks – I didn’t come to train to teach kids thanks.  If I wanted to do that, I’d go off and do a PGCE.  Think there’s a bit of a disconnect going on here in the doctoral student training, and doubtless we’ll all be clamouring for a change in policy.

This was followed by a session on the philosophy of technology, a subject dear to my heart.  That I was delighted to discover that the Mimbari caste system seems to stem from Plato’s approach to a perfect society (Thinkers/Warriors/Artisans) was a delight.  Not to mention the tutor almost managed to quote Clarke’s Third Law (“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic“) in a discussion on how difficult it is to consider technology philosophically when it is so omnipresent – hence considering how to explain it to a peasant in the middle ages.  So back to we go to Babylon 5 and the Techo Mages!

A discussion online afterwards also brought in EM Forster’s The Machine Stops (thank you Vic) and Asimov’s The Caves of Steel (me).  Two of my favourite SciFi stories,  both of which are relevant to considering how a society immersed in technology cannot look beyond its own boundaries…and yet must if it is to consider how and why that culture functions (or doesn’t).

Came home on a real high, and then watched the new Pope being wheeled out – so about as low tech as you could go.  Wonder if he understands technology?

Thursday

Finally got the feedback on the research proposal from my second supervisor, and it was worth the wait.  Really usefully broken down in my proposal.  But before I rushed into that, I needed to do my last polish on the second philosophy book review course work.  Once that was done then I started to work through his comments.  I’ve a deadline of Monday to do the revisions (eep!) so I suspect a bit of weekend working is up ahead.  I’m not going to complain, it’s not been the busiest of weeks and I’m more than happy to put the graft in.  Especially as it should all end next Friday and I can take a slight breather.

Also booked myself onto a course the week after that on research project management.  Should help to keep my skills sharp, especially as I hopefully move into a more active phase of actual project work after Easter.

Friday

Spent the day re-re-re-re-re-re-rewriting the proposal.  Especially focussing on the literature review as that’s where my supervisors wanted a fair bit of restructuring.  Think I’ve got that sorted but I might get Mrs Llama to cast her eyes over it again.  Bit word heavy still, so the pruning shears will need to come out.  But so close now I can almost smell the relief I’ll hopefully be feeling at this time next week.  Finished off the day writing my academic CV as there’s a workshop come up in Durham next month that’s right up my street, so hope to get my stuff together over the weekend.  Only a fiver – now I just need to find a way to get to Durham for pennies as I don’t get any funding for travel from the Uni.  And oh look, I can get an 18-26 Railcard.  (Hah!) One journey and that’ll pay for itself.

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