these titles are starting to get boring…. i need some new ones!

Classes yesterday and Monday both went very well. the notetakers continue to do a sterling job; i am getting quite spoiled by this and it takes so much pressure off me with understanding what’s going on (especially as i am so tired at the moment, i’m not sleeping as well as i should, what with this horrible cough that a couple of times in class on monday i caught myself nodding off, and both Monday and Tuesday evening i ended up napping for an hour after i got home), i can just flake out and read the transcription rather than making an effort to understand exactly what the tutor is saying. The main tutor i can understand somewhat better, at this point, than the secondary tutor (who i see on Tuesdays for archaeology), but that’s primarily due to the secondary tutor’s tonsillitis (which she still hasn’t recovered from, poor thing), and i think once she’s completely up to speed i’ll be fine with her.

Monday saw my first tutorial. We covered the process of applying to university, he went through the whole UCAS thing (for non-brits – when applying to University, you don’t apply to each individual university. UCAS is a sort of clearing organisation – you list 6 courses that you want to go on, which they then forward to the universities in question, who decide whether to offer you an unconditional offer (i.e. they really really want you and even if you fail your exams, they want you anyway, and which is, frankly, rare) or a conditional offer (i.e. if you’re waiting on exam results, then they want you to achieve a specific grade) and at the end, when all the results come in, it all results in a few weeks of chaos where people confirm their places and where they’re going, and the ones that haven’t got their grades enter a process called clearing, where they try to get onto a course they vaguely like at a university they vaguely like and hope for the best. or they go get a job. The application is a long process – from basic info through to making a “personal statement”, which is often the only way that the unis can distinguish candidates, and can make or break your application, so its important to get right. The cut off date for application for Sept 2011 is January 2011, so it gives you some idea of just how important it is that they’re starting this process now. I expect once our UCAS applications are well underway tutorial subjects will turn to other areas, like essay writing. but for now, my homework in that arena is to get my UCAS application started (its all done online) and to think about the choices of degree subject that i want to cover [which is a whole big thing, because even if i stick to Manchester, there’s two universities and a whole lot of degrees that they offer, even in the history “sphere”].

the one thing that has happened which is a bit disturbing happened on Monday. One student in my class apparently approached the notetaker to ask her for a copy of what she’s typing out. She refused, saying that he would have to ask me (since technically, they’re my notes, even if the college pays for the notetaking process). I wasn’t there then, i found this out from her afterwards, but he did come up to me and asked if he could “have a look”. i initially said yes, cos my mind was elsewhere, but thinking about it overnight, was very uncomfortable with it – not so much with the concept of him cribbing from my notes (which, lets be honest, everyone does), but from the idea that he might ask for copies of ALL my notes (especially if he were to find out that they are emailed to me, which i don’t intend to tell him, or anyone). I managed to grab him before class yesterday, and i asked him why he wanted them. Turns out he’s new to making notes and he’s not entirely sure that he’s doing it right, plus his handwriting is awful and he can’t read his own writing! He just wants a fallback so if he has questions about his notes or needs something that he forgot to write down, he can find the information out. which is fair enough, and i don’t mind that. I did tell him, however, that i didn’t feel comfortable with him photocopying ALL my notes and i explained why, and he was cool with that. So that’s a situation averted.

[i feel quite strongly with the notes that no one should automatically get copies from me, because their ears work just fine, and they’re not suffering from the disadvantage that i have. I don’t mind sharing for one part or one lesson, or giving someone notes when they’ve missed part of a lesson for some reason (as is going to happen tomorrow, one student’s daughter is being bullied badly at school, and the student has to go in to talk to the school about the situation, making her late for the class, so i’ve said (she didn’t ask, i offered) that she can have my notes up to the point where she comes in so she knows what she missed), or if they’re ill. that’s part of being a good student and sharing – i hope that someone might cover for me if i’m ill. but automatically getting copies of them is just taking the mickey, and its not a route i want to go down – if nothing else, because it will rob the other students of a learning process of learning to make their own notes, to write down what’s relevant, and that could well actually hurt them when they get to uni and they don’t have a professional notetaker to back them up. This is part of why i’m taking notes from TV Programmes on history, so that i too learn that process, even if its not one that i can actually exercise inside class (where the pause button doesn’t exist!).]

I spent some time in the library yesterday afternoon. It quickly became clear that writing notes from books isn’t a good way to do it – it takes far too long, especially when i type far faster than i write! So I’ll be taking my netbook in next week to make notes, hopefully that will help. Can’t wait to get my student ID too so that i can use things like the photocopier and to actually borrow books that i’m going to want more from than just a single afternoon’s work – as it is, i’ve had to make a note of the books i want to take more from with the hope that they’ll still be there when i go back next week. Its not a huge problem if not, as my grade isn’t dependent on these books – as long as its clear in my essay that i have done *some* research other than the set books, i should get the grade i want (a distinction). We’ll see. I don’t know what the first essay title will be yet, i think the secondary tutor will be telling us hers next week.

Tomorrow is Near Eastern Archaeology: i’ve been boning up on civilisation this afternoon, looking at what defines a civilisation and when to tell it has become one, what makes one, and then after that, i’ve got lots to do cos we’re heading down to my parents’ new home for the weekend on friday evening, so i’ve got to try to get as much of the essential college work done as possible before we leave, so that i’m not having to work too much on Sunday evening (when we get back), cos i’ll probably be rather tired. I’m looking forward to it though – seeing my parents and my grandmother, their dog, and their new home. the last time i saw it it was still filled with all the items belonging to the previous owner (who had died) and had a very unlived in, neglected air to it, so it definitely wasn’t at its best. I know my parents have been working hard on getting the place looking good so it will be good to see it all better and looked after!!