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Passing Thoughts

My week was exciting.

First, the outcome of it. I was interviewed for a wonderful job, but I didn’t get it, alas. I did get to the UK for the interview, however.

Quite a few of the questions at my job interview were about teaching. My teaching links where the students are (specifically – not in a vague sense) with the outcomes they need for each course. I often link it to current events or students’ lives or things that have come up in the last little while, or books we’re reading, for I find that grounding the teaching in tools of this kind makes it more memorable to most students.

What I’m doing on Tuesday and Wednesday is to translate some of the stuff I encountered during the interview trip into material for each class.

The Tuesday class is looking at writing in their own voice. We already have the first half of the session planned, by the request of the students. They were getting so much out of our last exercise we did, that they want to do it again. It tests their voices against the others in the class, so that they start to understand the difference between the way they write and the way other Canberrans write. The rest of the session will use papers and journals and other documents I carried back from the UK for them, and my students will look at some of the wider ramifications of the English language: how what they know fits in (or doesn’t )with what they read in the new sources.

My Wednesday course is all about stories. We’ll use the same material as placemarks in stories, and the whole session will be about structuring.

I collected most of the material as I found magazines and newspapers and route maps in my travels. This pile of paper became handy when the video failed on the long flight back. It was less handy when the baggage people took so long to deliver the baggage in Sydney that a lot of people missed their next flights.

This was oddly synchronous. When I got off the train to the city for my job interview, my suitcase rolled too quickly and I fell flat onto the station platform.
While I’d love to say that the fact that I was jetlagged and covered in bruises on one side is why I didn’t get the job, but my reading of it is cultural. Every university has their own culture and for some reason, this university’s humanities culture in general didn’t hear what I was saying. Those candidates who had mixed with other people from the university in conferences and other events did far better than me. It was strange to be pushed away from my excited explanations about projects and teaching: this is how far I was misread. My guess is that they didn’t realise the cultural element and thought that I was rather unsociable.

Educated Australians of my particular background are not so common anymore (and we certainly don’t appear in Aussie soaps), so it’s hard for people to assess me like that. Many other Brits are wonderful in discovering much about me from my speech – I love doing panels and giving papers in Britain because of this. It’s very neat.

Such a varied island is Britain. I noted a lot of the verbal conventions this week because I’m working on how we formulate language for certain types of fiction and how this applies to cultural ownership. It also makes sense of the interactions I had for my assessment for the job. Life is always better when one understands.

As ever, everything is linked.

1 comment

  1. Mary

    I’m catching up on your news. 😉 Britain is culturally quite standoffish, I’ve noticed. People get weird when someone ‘overshares’, shows emotion, etc. They don’t quite know how to harness that enthusiasm for their own benefit. Americans are better at that (you and I would probably be considered reserved in America).

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