Tempers, tears, tantrums and... pass the tissues

15th June 2007 at 01:00
Carol Gow lectures in media at Dundee College

June is a testing time for our students. They may not have final exams but, at the end of the session, they are all involved in either productions or projects which demonstrate to themselves and to the public that they can actually do the business.

Since that business is the creative and cultural industries, they also aspire to behave like the creatives they see in the movies. Think tears, tantrums and whoopee cushions. Class friendships crack under the strain of meeting real deadlines and my week has been filled with impromptu counselling sessions in corridors.

Elaine and Ami feel betrayed by each other. You listen. You hand out tissues. You resolve to buy a bigger box next time, maybe with aloe vera.

Sarah has worked herself up into a panic and, with a week to go, has decided she hates the course, hates everyone on it, can't do it, and won't do it. You ask her to ban the word "hate" from her vocabulary.

You listen. You hand out tissues. You resolve to buy a bigger box next time, maybe with aloe vera.

The whoopee cushion presents more of a problem, because here the perpetrator is my colleague and her target is me. The whoopee cushion noise makes her laugh so much she cries. Here I need a sensitive counselling plan.

I listen. I hand out tissues. I resolve to buy a bigger box next time, maybe with aloe vera.

Despite the madness, the usual miracles occur. People calm down and the exhibition is ready, the projects are completed and deadlines are met.

That's the point at which students finally see the light and understand why they're taught to work in a certain way, and why the bottom line is always about professionalism.

Before the curtain has dropped on this year's intake, we're eying up our next batch. They will need to be house-trained, of course. They will need to learn that we rely more heavily on interpersonal skills and mutual responsibilities than rules - which means that, though it may seem casual and friendly, I'm still the boss.

This year's students have been highly visible, and they have scrubbed up nicely. It's a shame to have to let them go. But who knows - with a bit of luck and some hard work we might pull it off again next year.

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