South Park Self

teach your children well

Brisbane was grey and rainy today, but still rather pleasant. The airport serves decent Earl Grey, and I'm sitting on a comfy chair waiting for the Melbourne flight, watching Qantas planes take off into a perfect rainbow, while fat tadpole raindrops chase each other down the window in shoals. What do airports coat their windows with? It makes water behave extremely oddly.

We were at the Queensland University of Technology this morning, which was not really relevant to much that Humanities does, but the Dean thought the visit might be interesting, and we don't argue with the Dean. Actually it was fascinating, apart from being a beautiful campus full of lovely buildings both modern and historical, on the doorstep of a botanical garden. Gawsh but that's a highly jacked institution: its focus is vocational and practical, but its research record is slightly overwhelming and quite definitely the stuff of science fiction. They specialise in mundane things like biofuels and airport technologies, but are also into nanotech and remote drones and some serious modelling, not to mention the use of virtual reality to in creative ways, like training hospital staff to operate radiology machines. Their approach to interdisciplinarity makes me weep with envy. Despite my fondness, in the teeth of the odds, for my Cherished Institution, I left feeling parochial and third world.

Institutions in this country reward good teaching. They really reward good teaching. They have awards and policies and value statements, and they take student experience very seriously. We lag horribly behind in that sort of thing, complacently research-focussed snobs that we are. I'm feeling both inspired and despairing.

QUT also took us out to lunch at an exceptionally good Chinese restaurant, where, clearly telepathically attuned to their visitors' proclivities, they had ordered us superb Peking Duck with pancakes. Also, a spicy pork mince with green beans which seems to be the Chinese version of stv's Basil Thing. Thus, while this lurgi has moved from the Hacking Cough into the Snuffle Zone and I'm a disgusting and unprofessional object and more than somewhat dead, it hasn't actually been a bad day. However, there is a clear and present danger that I'll spend more of my travel allowance on internet than I will on food, which probably says something profound about me, I'm not sure what.

This was apparently the original Governor's Mansion. Now it's the Chancellory.
  • Current Mood: blah exhausted, inspired
The trip sounds like a brilliant opportunity. Australia seems to have learned from the Americans on the valuing teaching front, while Extemp's cherished institution must have cribbed from the Brits (teaching? Oh yes, those annoying things that get in the way of research). As to the formal purpose of the trip:

University delegation exploring
Knowledge for
Hee. Definitely that sort of junket, and not a bad stab at the purpose ;>. Technically it's a benchmarking trip in the area of teaching and learning. We're interested in these institutions in terms of how they deal with the student experience, staff development and student throughput, plus anything else that seems interesting and relevant.