Following on from last month’s hugely successful (ie completely unread) monthly review, here is my February one using the same categories.
Highlight: Puppy! After going through the home improvement and the cutting your own hair stage, we entered the puppy stage of lockdown. Welcome Posey! Not very work related I know, but come on, it’s a puppy.
Teaching: With my colleagues I completed a 40 page document document for the Periodic Quality Review exercise at the OU, for the Open Programme which I chair. This takes place every 6 years for all qualifications. It’s a lot of work, but a good opportunity to reflect and suggest improvements. I’m always impressed by the professionalism of staff in such complex undertakings. It’s the sort of administrative task that people moan about as an example of universities spending too much money on admin, but then complain if such quality assurance isn’t undertaken.
Theme: If the January theme was ‘Pandemic fatigue’, then February was “A new hope”. It got sunny, work settled down a bit with book out of the way, there is a route hopefully out of lockdown, I got a puppy.
Lowlight: I gave one of the keynotes at the annual H818 student conference. This course is part of our MAODE, and ends with students presenting at an online conference (we were doing them before they were fashionable) about research they have undertaken on a topic of their choice. It is always a real delight and produces high quality output. The reason it was a lowlight was because this year’s was the last one – as I’ve blogged before, the MAODE was a victim of the curriculum review at the OU. It’s a shame to see such an innovative, successful course fall victim to some poor decision making, but I have been powerless to prevent it. Anyway, my thanks to Simon Ball who hosts the conference every year and the students who have made it such a success.
Vinyl highlight: I was a big fan of Grandaddy’s The Sophtware Slump when it came out in 2000. It was sort of a concept album about alcoholic robots and mining far off planets, but really it spoke to a feeling of technology disappointment and ennui (it’s been listed as one of the saddest albums). It was rerecorded by Jason Lytle on a wooden piano for this anniversary, and that adds a plaintive, lockdown overlay to the technology dystopia.
Book: Candacy Taylor’s Overground Railroad uses the history of the Green Book (the travel guide, not the crap film) to trace racial issues in the US. It’s extremely well researched, and following the annual publication of the guide is an ideal (ahem) vehicle to trace this history. Taylor makes a powerful connection to modern incarceration rates and economic red-lining. It’s a powerful, multi-faceted and intriguing take on modern US history.