Morning all. And what a grey, dreary morning it is here. Perhaps it seems even greyer because I looked through my sister's wedding photos last night. She got married on an escarpment overlooking Wellington, New Zealand - mountains, the sea etc. And the tables at the reception were named for various typefaces, which is exactly the kind of thing I appreciate. I'd like to think that the more annoying guests were placed on the Comic Sans table, out of earshot.
Today's plan is both simple and exhausting: 3 hours on King Lear with the second year students, then straight into 2 hours on deontological ethics and subjective/objective phenomena (utter Kant) with a different set of second years, then I'll haul what remains of my sorry carcass off to fencing. I know that 5 hours of continuous teaching sounds like a doddle to anyone who has a physically demanding job, but it's mentally draining - out in front of the class there's no opportunity for mentally recharging. Switching between two subjects (I teach in two departments) without a break even for a cup of tea is a challenge too.
You have to constantly review how things are going, be alive to every nuance of what the students are saying, feeling and thinking, and never stop paying attention to them. When it goes well, it's the best feeling in the world - but it's still exhausting. I wouldn't want to do anything else. When it's not going well, it's utterly demoralising - such as when they haven't bothered reading a text, or don't feel like talking about it. I've occasionally walked out of a class in exasperation, but it's not a solution.
Anyway, the Lear class should go well - they've had lectures on it already and they should be prepared. As with last week's class, we'll talk about the Nahum Tate 'happy ending' version of the play, the history of performance, the plays' differing moral universes and see how it goes. Attendance has so far been high and they've all been talkative.
The ethics class is trickier: the students are from a wide range of subjects, the concepts are both new and difficult, and most of them appear not to have any interest in the core applications. While they engage quite well with the philosophical concepts, the application of ethical thinking to media production and consumption still seems beyond their mental landscape. News media are at the core of today's session, but I'm hampered by the fact that they literally do not watch TV news, read newspapers or listen to news radio. Last week they hadn't heard of Jimmy Savile, for instance. I know this makes me sound like a whinging old duffer, but it really does bother me: they're mostly media students and they all have the vote.