Chop wood. Carry water.

I’ve been reared to go down to the well for a bucket of water, bring it back up, fill the black pot. … My baking is done on the hearth fire. I bake my own bread in my pot ovens. Perhaps it is long drawn out. But it’s all I’ve ever known. Margaret Gallagher, 1992, All I’ve Ever Known In 1992, Margaret Gallagher was turning 50. She landed her first job at 46, working as a local historian. Today she’s…

Continue Reading

The peacock and the fish

That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct. Solomon Asch, Opinions & Social Pressure, 1955 1. It’s been a week of sitting and thinking as the presentations slide by. University strategic planning is a bit like a lava lamp: ideas rise…

Continue Reading

Subject outline

Above their heads, whether the visitors are sleeping, dreaming or making love, the laws keep watch. Jacques Derrida, Of Hospitality It’s that time of year when the deadline rears up for next year’s syllabus. Where I am, we call this a “subject outline”, and I’m momentarily stuck on all the ways we could take this. Who is the subject outlined here?  Whose subjectivity are we trying to confine? There’s a template, of course. It’s there to assure compliance with codes of…

Continue Reading

Day to day

Currently focused on the doorway of every lecture theatre, cameras record students as they enter, matching their faces to university records. Using Hitachi Data Systems to improve student life at Curtin University,  in the black: leadership, strategy, business  I’m really stuck on this article. I’ve read it over and over. I think about the world we’re making, and the world we’re mining, and I’m trying to process something that feels like grief at the way we speak about innovation. It’s not…

Continue Reading

All the routine jobs

All the routine jobs will eventually be replaced. Someone talking on the radio one morning 1 It’s the morning routine. I’m driving to work, and thinking about my job, and all around me are the people doing their jobs as I’m on my way to mine. Right there in the morning traffic, there are two men laying out bollards in a row, because something’s up and today’s the day. And beyond that the freeway and all its stuff that’s only there…

Continue Reading

Unconverted

Once you have a conversion, that doesn’t mean game over. Your first exchange with a prospective student is only just the beginning. Nurturing leads through the enrollment funnel is a complex process. Christina Fleming, ‘4 Quick Stops on the Road to Increase Student Enrolment‘ Colleagues in university sales and marketing, we need to talk about the language that we use when we talk about student recruitment. I work alongside you, and I’m writing this respectfully and appreciatively: you are trained and…

Continue Reading

Who we are to each other

We are not in a place the way a tree or a rock is in a location. David Kolb, Sprawling Places 1 I’m at Heathrow, standing in the line of non-EU nationals with my EU passport in my pocket because my daughter is only Australian, although I’m a dual national. I’ve filled out the arrival form with my usual sense of awkwardness about what I do, and as usual I’ve said it’s “academic”. Academic, as in moot. Academic, as in “the…

Continue Reading

Unbroken

If we don’t sit with the rough edges of our journey, we forget how we made it. Kevin Gannon, The Tattoed Professor, ‘On being broken, and the kindness of others‘ 1 It’s Friday at the end of a long week of being trivially unwell. Trivially in the not-cancer sense, but disruptively in the whole-family-down-with-it sense, the “Oh, everyone has this, isn’t it dreadful, have you got the cough yet?” sense. Whole days in bed, shivering and sweating. And coughing. Having…

Continue Reading

Shared values

It happened because our corporate policies were put ahead of our shared values. Oscar Munoz, United Airlines CEO It happened: a passenger hauled by his arms from a plane to enable airline staff to get from airport to airport. His reaction to being grabbed out of his seat seemed to take everyone by surprise, and from the moment he refused to go along with things, every mistake was made. He was physically harmed, mentally harmed, and then further abused by media and social media investigations…

Continue Reading

Connectedness and learning: an invitation

How much capacity for empathy do we have, for ideas and people whose worldviews are very different from our own? How much hospitality do we have in ourselves, beyond mere tolerance, for this kind of difference? Maha Bali,  ‘Whom do you listen to? And why I’m hoping to go the US this August“ At Mary Freer’s compassion lab last week I learned new things from systems researcher Fiona Kerr. Fiona advises large corporations on social neuroscience, and is a robust and articulate…

Continue Reading