Tag Archives: teaching

2004 – 2022

all those moments
when the inside didn’t match the outside
when no one looked closely enough to see
all those moments
when I couldn’t say just what I felt
when I said nothing instead
all those moments
when we were together
when I was so alone
all those moments
of trying to understand
of trying to be understood
all those moments
of wondering why I am here
of wondering whether I can bear to stay
all those moments
will be lost in time like tears in rain
will be over as the rope snaps taut

 

This was written for the dVerse “words of departure” prompt, and to help me process a death I’ve been struggling to come to terms with. I’ve been wanting to write something about it, and while when I first saw the prompt I didn’t think I’d be able to write to it, it actually tuned out to be a way to begin processing this. The prompt required the inclusion of a quote from a selection. I chose “all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain” from Bladerunner (one of my favourite films).        

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thesis writing: the Rimmer method

I’m spending a lot of my time at the moment reading thesis drafts. And reflecting on the theses and papers I’ve helped students with, and my own writing practice, I have formulated the Rimmer toilet paper methodology for thesis writing and reviewing to help other supervisors and their students.

The methodology is inspired by Rimmer’s frugal use of toilet paper: “one up, one down, one to polish”. Applying the same idea to thesis reviewing saves the time of the both the student and the supervisor.
The aim is that the supervisor only has to read the thesis three times, and the student doesn’t go mad revising draft after draft.
This how it works:

1. One up: the first draft has the ideas and the structure, the outline of the argument, and the chain of logic between method, results and conclusions with enough data to support the argument. And that’s all. So, on the reading of this draft, the sticky and lumpy problems get sorted, and direction for what else needs to go in is clarified. The result of this reading is that the page/word count goes up, because the student goes away with a clear understanding of what to do to put where.

2. One down: the second draft should be pretty much complete, and logically sequenced. A little bit of structural editing happens at this stage – paragraphs get moved, the argument gets tightened up. And this is where stuff that doesn’t need to be in there gets deleted. You can’t afford to be precious – if it doesn’t contribute clearly and directly, cut it out. The result of this reading is the page/word count goes down.

3. One to polish: the third draft should be the last if you did the first two well. This is the copyedit and proofread stage – just making it read nicely, fixing grammar and spelling errors: polishing.  This stage must be preceded by the previous two, because you can’t shine… a first draft.

As a supervisor, sometimes it feels like a whole roll of toilet paper has to be used to clean up a thesis between first mucky draft and final polished perfection. And after the tenth reading you start to want to insert the thesis sideways into even the best of students. But the thoughtful application of the “one up, one down, one to polish” methodology will save time and support better student-supervisor relationships.

Note that the “one up, one down, one to polish” methodology is most suitable for lengthy pieces of writing, where a theme or argument needs to be sustained. For very short pieces, such as blog posts, the urinal method is perfectly acceptable – just squirt it out, and walk away.

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for L_, who I trust and respect

I didn’t go to his funeral. Even if I could have, I would not have gone. Funerals are for the living, Continue reading

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what I wanted to say…

…in my Friday and weekend emails and “chats” to the 10% of my colleagues who cause 90% of the problems because they either ignore the grade submission deadline, discover they don’t know how to use the system until after the deadline and expect help on the weekend, or are just too bloody ODD to do anything properly and on time without having to be asked five times and then argue about it:  

 

I’m the parent that’s less fun

(the one that makes you brush your teeth)

I’m the teacher that’s more mean

(the one that won’t let you in the lab barefoot)

I’m the director that sends the angry emails

(the one that makes sure marks come in)

 

Or here’s another way of looking at it,

I’m the one that:

keeps the kids healthy,

the students safe,

and makes sure the system works.

 

Did you ever think that maybe I get tired of

     being the grown up?

     being the responsible one?

     being the bad guy?

and would like to not give a shit about

dental costs,

legal liability and

graduations,

either?

 

Did you ever stop to think that if you

JUST

DO

YOUR

FUCKING

JOB

then I won’t have to be the bad guy?

 

Let’s do the experiment and see what happens.

 

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home teaching/learning

For the dVerse Monday haibun, “back to school“:

It’s Tuesday morning of the semester break, and I’m in the bedroom working on my online lectures and tutes: particle and rigid body kinematics and kinetics. In the background my husband is yelling at the kids – “supporting their online schooling” in the kitchen. Continue reading

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Filed under musings, poem

acros(s)tic

Tuesday’s dVerse prompt was to write an acrostic or a poem inspired by puzzles. I’ve never gotten into crosswords personally…

Crosswords are, apparently,
Recommended for the brain
Or some other mental activity
So our sanity’s maintained.
Some enjoy them, that is true,
Well, they’re fine, but not me.
Other puzzles bring me pleasure –
Round here we’re much more mathsy!
Division and times-tables,
Some algebra and graphing –

Numeracy’s enabled, and
Our puzzles keep us laughing.

But this prompt did make me smile, because on the weekend I spent a couple of hours creating puzzle-clues for my kids to do treasure hunts. The kids were bored with being in quarantine so I found some chocolate tucked away and sent them on an out-of-season Easter hunt. Some of the clues were word puzzles, including one combined crossword + jumble, but many were maths-based because the little one is learning long division and times-tables, and the twins are doing algebra and graphs in online schooling.  

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cog, oil, spanner?

Are you happy to be
a brick in the wall?
That would be dull, but,
at worst you could fall.
Or would you rather be,
a cog in the machine,
going round and round.
A repeating scene.
Or what about
the oil that’s flowing,
between the cogs,
to keep it all going?
Or the fuel being burnt,
down in the furnace,
sure that your sacrifice
serves a great purpose?

What other choices
does the machine proffer?

A sabot or a spanner,
are still there on offer.

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c’est la fucking vie

Yesterday morning, in the middle of a two hour face-to-face tutorial, my students told me Canberra was going into lockdown at 1700.  So, after tute, I checked in with my team, reset a bunch of stuff on my course site to 2020 version, emailed all my students, then looked around my office to decide what to take home… instant curries from the filing cabinet, a couple of textbooks, the fruit sitting on my desk… and, oh yes, my “little box of fucks” (for when you have none left to give – thank you B_ for that thoughtful gift)…  Grabbed my stuff, collected kids from school, and got home just in time to run my 1600 to 1800 tute online.  (sigh). 

Hence this, in mirrored refrain form for the Thursday dVerse prompt

C’est la fucking vie,
Here we go again…
and we retreat into our homes,
as another lockdown descends.

We bunker down inside, while
outside the virus roams,
as another lockdown descends
and we retreat into our homes. Continue reading

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friction does not oppose motion – seriously, it doesn’t.

with apologies to Gordon Sumner….: 

Every move you make,
Every step you take,
Every game you play,
Unless still you stay,
Friction’s moving you.

Oh can’t you see,
That your free bodeeeee…
Diagram is wro-oong,
That’s why I sing this so-oooong…. Continue reading

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FBD, chant with me!

I use the odd rhyme and other mnemonics in my teaching, including online last year asking my class to turn on their microphones and all repeat after me:

“I solemnly swear, to draw the forces, all the forces, and nothing but the forces, on my free  body diagrams. So help me John”. (John is my co-lecturer – and it sounded better than “so help me Kate”). 

But after pondering the dVerse prompt to meet the bar with  a chant, I now have something bigger and… maybe…better… for this year’s cohort:

Now I know ’cause Kate told me

Now I know ‘cause Kate told me

I must master free body

I must master free body

Diagrams that show each force

Diagrams that show each force

If I want to pass this course

If I want to pass this course Continue reading

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