The first week of teaching is always a challenge. It’s where the planning and the practice come into close proximity, nose up to one another, and then one of them emerges victorious after a grapple and a test of strength. At this point I feel that the planning won out, but I also have a mild state of anxiety that it was a case of holding on by the finger nails, and that if there was a gentle breeze in the direction of the radio modules this week, I would now be floating at the bottom of a dirty puddle like a plastic bag that has been whipped around a municipal park and is now laying discarded and forgotten.
But the week was good. It was great to meet the new Radio Production students, catch up with the returning students, and to run some sessions that got our minds thinking about the way that we can use radio. I have to say that the highlight of my week was playing Dr Who and the Pescatons to the first year radio production students. It was funny listening back to this audio drama after so long. I still have the album that I bought when I was ten or eleven years old. My eldest brother was into punk in 1977, and used his cash to buy Clash and Sex Pistols singles. I was a bit of a Dr Who fan and spent my money on albums by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Disaster Sound Effects albums. So at my lecture it was great hearing Tom Bakers voice on a high-end sound system, that brought out the tone and the character of his voice. Tom Baker’s voice sits alongside Roger Livesey and Richard Burton as my all-time favourite actors, solely based on their voices.
Later in the week I ran a session with the second year radio production students, as part of their personal tutoring sessions. Rather than just sit in a classroom, we worked in a computer lab and created personal mind-maps that asked what they think that they might be doing in two years time once the have graduated? After each person wrote a blog we sat and talked about how the BSc Radio Production & Technology course can be improved so that we see a more direct link between the course and industry, and how this can be developed to ease the transition from studying and employment for most of the graduates. We agreed that personality can only play a limited role, and that the rest would be dependent on having a set of distinctive skills and grabbing every opportunity there is to gain experience and undertake production work.
As ever there are some major challenges ahead in meeting the expectations of the students, but on the basis of this week it looks like being a good year.