Archive for August, 2010

An early start

August 17, 2010

My apologies for the recent overlong silence there was yet another public holiday here on Monday (although I was on the ball enough to know about it advance this time).

I’m sorry to drag out the point made in my last post, but we just hit what is probably the worst instance of it. Last term I had a bit of a moan about their excessive use of continuous assessment here. Since one of the courses I’m lecturing this time only has lectures at 7 in the morning there was inevitably going to be a time when I had to set an exam at this ridiculous hour too and that finally happened this morning.

With nobody to help me set the room up (you know lay out the scripts so that not too many people are sat close together – the class is unfortunately just that little bit too large for this to be trivial); write the instructions on the board and unhook the phone (yes there have been comedic incidents during lectures when the serves-no-obvious-purpose-when-the-security-desk-is-immediately-outside-anyway phone rang in the middle of a lecture and my stock phrase (perdon hablo muy no bien español) produced little more than a raucous laugh from the audience and very abrupt hanging-up on the other end of the line) etc. But of course, there will always be studious people who turn up just that little bit earlier than the rest and the room has to be ready before they arrive.

I had no idea 5:30 existed in academia, except possibly at postgraduate conferences, and even that’s only when nobody’s quite gone to bed yet, because the vodka in whoever’s room in the accommodation has been nominated the official conference party room has yet to be finished. Or at least, that’s what I hear is what sometimes happens…

Anyway, it finally happened. I needed to get into a lecture room so early I had to get security to unlock it. It’s amazing how useful the verb necesitar is – just as I now desperately necesito café.

Sorry to complain, but following events of the weekend just gone I hope to have a more upbeat and ‘picturesque’ posting for you in the near future ;).

7AM lectures

August 7, 2010

So, the first week of the semester has passed. Given that it’s still August, this in itself of course sounds absurd. It gets worse.

Last semester colleagues had told me that it was neither unknown nor uncommon for lectures to be held at 7AM. Luckily all my lectures last semester were in the afternoons, but this time around things are quite different. Every Tuesday and Thursday I have to get up at silly o’clock in the morning, just to tell a room of half asleep students (assuming they got out of bed in time to actually turn up) the dull basics of linear algebra for 80 minutes. That’s not a typo – lectures start on the hour and end at 20 minutes past the hour. By three-quarters of the way through, I really don’t think anyone, myself included, is still concentrating.

You’ve got to wonder who or what gets anything out of extra-long lectures held at this odd time of day and if the timetabling is really so crammed full that lectures can’t all be held at a more sensible time. Still, there’s only another four months until this semester’s teaching is over.