In the real world, you can't beat a bacon roll

30th March 2001 at 01:00
I've been teaching in our corporate services suite this week. And if lecturing has a lot in common with acting, then I suppose it's equivalent to moving from provincial rep to the West End. It's all so plush, darling. Deep squashy carpets, wide-windowed rooms, and support staff who provide a service which makes teaching there seem like cutting butter with a hot knife.

And talking of food, I could get used to being greeted by jugs of coffee and crumbly shortbread on my arrival, and I would be prepared to go into serious training to manage mid-morning coffee and white chocolate biscuits before embarking on lunch.

My group appreciated their surroundings and felt pampered, predisposed to work hard and to enjoy their training. Programme over, it was time for me to leave the rarified atmosphere of corporate services and return to the real world where students make their way to the canteen at lunchtime for a bottle of Irn-Bru and a bacon roll.

Life is tougher. Someone has always used up the last of the flipchart, your Powerpoint presentation develops a glitch as soon as the technician leaves the room and a new face turns up on the last week of the block and asks:

"Have I missed anything important?" But yes, you've guessed. It's maybe tougher in the real world, but it's a lot more fun.

I would miss my Friday group who come in uncomplaining every Friday afternoon, but don't really feel they can be expected to do any work. Cool media types, they treat it rather like a social gathering. They like to sit and chat about the workload, rather then get down to it, but they do keep me up to date on the music scene and skateboarding.

I would miss my writing group, some of whom have chalked up years of attendance, and look on the class and the college proprietorially. "I know you're the lecturer," one announced recently, "but as I said to my sister,after all this time, the wifey's my friend as well."

Students will always find a way to make an individual impression. Billy was preparing to do a talk. I was busy with the paperwork, and murmured absently: "When you're ready, just begin." When I glanced up, he was wearing a huge blonde curly wig. "That got your attention, didn't it?" he grinned. He did suit it, though, in a strange kind of way.

Next week we are inviting pupils from neighbouring schools for "A Day In The Life of a Journalist", which has been hugely successful over the past few years. Some of our HNC students offered to help out by staging a press conference. They weren't quite so keen when they heard the "story": Prince Harry was coming to Dundee College to do an HNC in professional writing. Haw haw haw.

OK it was unbelievable, I agreed, but I didn't want any confusion breaking out. Some years ago, a colleague had staged a mock press conference as part of a crisis management course which involved some gruesome GBH in the college car park. Someone left a press release lying around, a student read it and phoned their mum - it took my colleague a while to explain that one away.

I left them with their lecturer to plan the press release. As she prepared to use the whiteboard, she searched for a duster. "Do you think," she remarked to the class, "that once Prince Harry comes to Dundee College we'll get a decent supply of dusters?" A voice full of wonder spilled over from the back of the room: "Is he really coming to Dundee College, then?" There is no truth in the rumour either that the entire HNC student population has been moved into the corporate services suite and will have to forego Irn-Bru and bacon rolls in order to consume vast quantities of crumbly shortbread and white chocolate biscuits.

Dr Carol Gow is a lecturer in mediacommunication at Dundee College.

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