Thursday, October 09, 2003

What is it that I am doing?
Come to think of it, it has to look like I don't do anything but write in my blog about things I find while surfing, and complain about giving a lecture or two a year. It's correct that I give very few lectures. The teaching at Volda College rarely happens in lectures.

My main job is actually administration. These days I am planning next semester, which is frantic, and frantic on a whole new scale. We have gone from a two-year to a three year education, and we are still following the first class through. Until summer 2005 we will have "first times" every semester. What I do as head of the education is to make sure that the semesters are prepared in time: that we have the equipment we need, that we have the rooms we need, that we have the readinglists done and updated, that we have the classes plotted, the assistants hired, the tasks are planned and internships agreed upon. I don't have to do it all myself, but it's my job to remember it all.

Then there is the bureucracy following the reform which we are all struggling with. Where we earlier used to have the students evaluate the teaching, now we don't just have to evaluate it but we have to report the form in which they evaluate, the results and what we plan to do about that. While we used to have meetings with the students to discuss how to develop the study further, now we have to write minutes from these meetings and report them. While we used to have staff meetings and discuss problems, now we also need to write minutes and report these. Every action we used to perform has now, under the new structure, generated three more layers of bureaucracy. Luckily I only have to do double work, I am not responsible for the new administrators they have hired to deal with the double load of paper I produce now.

Then there's the demand for more research. Planning research, making research strategies, playing politics. And while we are talking about politics, the internal affairs of a large workplace, and all the political decicions that I can't avoid any more: what positions to keep open, which to fill, where to send resorces and where to get them. An endless game that can fill all available time.

And in between this I have face-to-face conversations with students. I spend a lot of time with students in my office, supervising, giving advice and generally following them up. Now at least one of those conversation each semester needs to generate a report and a piece of paper that is passed on.

I am employer and employee, I am strategist and politician, I am researcher, writer and student, I am administrator and administrated. And then I am a teacher.

I actually like to teach. I like writing the large, sweeping lectures, two hours and a hundred students, let me manipulate that group, let me make them fight among themselves, let me set them buzzing as I fly high on the energy of the lecturing hall. But I don't have the time to do it. I am stuck here in this office writing boring reports on routine conversations where we learn nothing because I am not allowed to ask any really significant questions, only questions that fit in the forms.

Thank you, that helped. Now I remember that I actually like teaching, and I'll have fun tomorrow.

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