Archive for October, 2010


Predictably upon my return to this blog after a bit of a gap it’s to talk about Geography again. We have a new professor, and whatever else one might say about her she’s doing one thing that I would expect of a professor: she’s saying things I disagree with so strongly that it gives me pause to reflect. Well, of course, you say: it’s all a matter of opinion. She has her opinion; you have yours. Indeed, and that brings me to what I’ve been doing with my students in the last few tutorials. As I usually do in the first couple of weeks of the new year I ask the new 1st-years to try out the online discussion system by posting a message about themselves and trying to get an interesting discussion started amongst themselves.  They are only 1st-years, just starting out, so typically the discussion amounts to “I like football” “yeah, me too.” In the follow-up tutorial I wind them up a bit by giving them a hard time over their use of the apostrophe and assorted other failings, and I feign surprised disappointment at having to explain the meaning of the word egregious.  Having got them stirred up I make it clear that their idea of an interesting discussion fell somewhat short of what I’d expected of university undergraduates reading for an honours degree, and one of them takes the bait: “Well, just because you don’t think it’s interesting doesn’t mean it’s not! It’s a matter of opinion.” I let it go. I might give them a condescending smile, but I let it go, having arranged for the conversation to reach this point just as we run out of time for the session. They’ve taken the bait, and now they’re ready for  the Points of View tutorials… Perhaps I’ll invite the new professor to come along.

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