Everyone here knows that I like to play video games. I always have, and my transition from ugly duckling to beautiful swan can be mapped alongside my gaming platforms: Spectrum 48k and Spectrum 128k at school, Amiga and Atari Lynx II (if anyone remembers that…) at college, PlayStation 1 and PS2 at university, PlayStation 3 in my first academic posts and now the X Box One with my own boys. I’ve never been massively into playing on the PC – despite the fact that my…Continue Reading “Eat. Sleep. Mine. Repeat.”

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (and frankly if you don’t, you really should – I’m a delight!) will know that in my recent visit to the School of Health and Social Care, I got a bit lost and stumbled across this in a dark corridor… It was pointed out to me that this was all very Westworld, and that in turn got me thinking a little about role-play and simulation. Not the murdery kind like on the show, but rather the educational…Continue Reading “These violent delights have violent ends…”

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see the recent Kenneth Branagh version of Murder on the Orient Express, but it’s very watchable. It’s got a great cast, it looks suitably opulent and has some nice lines in it. I’ve seen it twice now – once on my flight to Seattle for the AAFS in Feb, and then again this month at home. The nice thing about doing this is that you get to appreciate the film first as if in the dark,…Continue Reading “My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world…”

One thing that you learn from talking to your children is that oftentimes you’re not nearly as interesting as you think you are… What can I do but take these painfully learnt lessons and apply them in the classroom? So in recognition of how boring I can be and to break things up a bit, I like to bring in TV and films to help contextualise or liven up what I’m talking about. I’ve used clips from the greatest TV show ever made (Total Wipeout…Continue Reading “It’s important to me that you know that Han shot first…”

Now, the problem with being an utter delight, is that people want to talk to you. Like, all the time. In every possible situation. The pressures of being such a joy to be around are great.   Like most people I commute to work. But I don’t drive in, I take the train. I much prefer the train to the car – it’s easier, cheaper and as an anthropologist it gives me considerable opportunity to people-watch. Also, the train is a microcosm of human society…Continue Reading “Planes, trains and automobiles…”

Last night, I was thinking a lot about giving lectures. This is not unusual, but this time it wasn’t the content that interested me, but the mechanics of lecturing. Three things happened over the past two days which brought this to the forefront of my mind. First, I’d come back from a fantastic 2-day leadership development residential; second, I’d just given four hours straight teaching, and; third, I’d just watched Jerry before Seinfeld. The leadership workshop was great. Run by the Leadership Foundation for HE…Continue Reading “Comic Timing…”

It’s been very quiet on campus recently (a little too quiet…), but that was all shattered last week as our new students arrived at Teesside. That’s right, last week was Welcome Week!  It also marked the first Welcome Week where I’ve been actively involved in crafting the week (well, I say ‘actively’ – it’s largely been our fantastic School Registrar Michelle Dickson and her team who have pulled together a workable week…). For me, this week is all about setting the tone for study and…Continue Reading “Every new journey starts with a single step…”

Last night a team from Teesside headed down to the bright lights of the big city for the inaugural Higher Education Academy and Times Higher prize-giving for the Global Teaching Excellence Awards. The awards were devised to allow institutions to demonstrate their continued and innovative commitment to teaching excellence for their students. And unlike awards like the recently announced National Teaching Fellowships, these awards focus on institutional actions rather than the work of specific individuals. Following over 300 expressions of interest, 27 universities were long-listed…Continue Reading “Global Teaching Excellence Awards”

There’s no point in having a blog if you can’t get things off your chest. So here it is for this week – I’m being driven mad by the number of people asking me if I’m now off for six weeks like teachers. I’m not a teacher! I do not have a gaping summer vacation! Stop asking that every year! For sure, I take time off over the summer, and that’s important, but it’s also a key period for getting things done, as others have…Continue Reading “For the love of God, I do not have a six week summer holiday…”

The biggest event this week is not the start of Season 7 of Game of Thrones, it’s not the discussion of the new Avengers Infinity War teaser, it’s not even the announcement of a female Doctor Who (which, by the way, has generated a staggering amount of whining). No, the biggest, most hotly anticipated event this week is graduation! As I’ve said before, graduation is my favourite part of the academic cycle. It’s a moment of celebration and pride and a chance to reflect upon…Continue Reading ““I can and I will” – Graduation 2017!”