2011: a review

As we enter the last hours of 2011, it’s time to look back over the year and its highs and lows. I spent the beginning of the year at my mother’s house, and I’m pleased to say that she is still doing very well, having celebrated her 91st birthday in August.

As far as work is concerned, my main preoccupations are teaching and research. As you will see from some posts from this year and last year, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my teaching and how well it fits the needs of students in the 21st century. I’ve worried about the relevance and usefulness of lectures, and how to deal with the kind of low level disruption that seems to be pretty commonplace in lectures now. My conclusion, reached after much thought and discussion with others is that lectures still have a place, and that my style of teaching is still fit for purpose. As for dealing with disruption, I’ve tried various approaches, none of which have been very satisfactory. It remains a problem, but not one which I will worry about any more! Ultimately it’s up to the students to sort themselves out, since University lecturers are not trained to be disciplinarians!

Research has been quite successful this year. I attended 2 international conferences, one in Poland and one in France, where various aspects of work from my group were presented, and my PhD students attended a couple of other workshops/conferences thus ensuring our presence there as well. I managed to get two papers from my Brazil collaboration published, and a further two are in varying stages of the refereeing process. I also visited Vienna for a research collaboration, and loved the city! You can find some photos from this visit, and others, on Facebook.

I’ve seen some memorable films this year, including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, The Source Code, and The Adjustment Bureau as well as 11 others, which is good going for me. Having seen the TV adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in the late 1970s, and having read all of Le Carre’s books, I was particularly looking forward to the film, and was not disappointed. It was always going to be a challenge to accept another actor in the role of George Smiley (other than Alec Guinness), but Gary Oldman was convincing, as was Colin Firth as Bill Haydon.

It’s also been a good year for reading fiction. Thanks to having received a Kindle as a Christmas present last year, I have been able to read a lot more, and I have discovered some new authors. My first blog post of 2012 will be all about this!

So, in conclusion, 2011 has had ups and downs, but has broadly been a good year. Some issues remain unresolved, which I hope to deal with in 2012, including keeping some of my research collaborations going (of which more in future posts). But as the year ends, in this pantomime season I think back to an amazing production of Dick Whittington which I saw in January at the Birmingham Hippodrome (with Julian Clary and Joan Collins), and look forward to seeing the film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo next week, which I read during 2011.

A very Happy New Year to all!

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