Learning, emulation and voice

Hazel's patchHow unexpected was that? A Bank Holiday weekend, and beautiful weather the whole time. Gorgeous.

At least, that's what I hear. Personally, I was stuck inside marking, a result of having spent part of the past nine months or so as a pretend academic. It's been a fascinating insight into the future of what is probabaly still my profession. (Great unwritten blog posts: 2012 - the year that journalism wouldn't let me go).

And it was... fascinating. There were the standouts and the ones who didn't put in the work. All par for the course (as my wife, who is a real academic and has way more experience with this stuff than me, tells me). But most of all, it was so clear that some of them were regular consumers of online content and some of them weren't, and that shaped very heavily the way they produce content. I suppose that's an obvious observation: we all have our influences, and at first we emulate them and then - if we have any skill - we eventually grow beyond them and find our own voices. 

If anyone's foolish enough to rehire me to work with students again next year, that's the major lesson I'll take away from this year. It's not enought to talk about the theory, the techniques and the working methods. You need to offer people as many great examples of the kind of work you're talking about. Colleagues like Paul Bradshaw are already pretty good at this - but it hadn't really sunk into my rather dense noggin just yet. You can't force students to read them, but you can at least offer them the choice.