This morning I’m publishing two blogs, one from Mike Otsuka which looks at tomorrow’s strike by University Staff from an economic perspective, mine looking at the human aspects of the strike. .
Here are two emails from teachers in the past couple of days/
I am very sorry that most of you will experience some disruption from strike action over the coming weeks. The department has issued several communications to students, so please refer to these for the official position.
I would like to give some advice on how you can personally avoid being too affected:
1. Still do the reading and supervision work as usual.
2. If your supervision is cancelled, meet in the supervision group as you would have done anyway and spend an hour discussing the topic. Go prepared with questions, comments and insights. (You can even mark one another’s essays using the marking criteria, which can be a very good learning technique).
3. Try not to worry too much. The people who teach you are fully aware of the unevenness of teaching provision, and that this will impact upon student learning.
4. If you have friends who will have a supervision, when your own has been cancelled, ask them to meet with you to go over the material together.
This is unfortunately a moment to draw on that special self-sufficiency and collaborative learning which you have already developed very well.
Very best wishes to you all,
We are encouraging all staff to share information with you about what
strike action will mean for specific field trips, lectures and
supervisions. I can’t guarantee that everyone will do so, but I hope the
majority will, and at least take away some of the uncertainty. I have
listed out my own schedule below (those of you affected should know this
already, but just to confirm).
I would suggest that those of you who are affected think about taking
the positive opportunity to read more, form discussion groups, try out
timed or standard essays. Perhaps second and third years could help
first and second years through papers and ideas … ?
Thank you for your patience, and in many cases, your support, which is
hugely appreciated. We all want this to come to a very rapid conclusion.
With best wishes
These letters remind me that teachers put the care of their students first. No doubt there will be people who will go in with both feet in tackling the strike, making broad brush generalisations about “entitlement” and “privilege”. They should read these letters.
What is happening at British Universities is shameful. University is pitted against University, hard-liners against progressives, the USS is trying to keep out of the dispute but is dragged into the politics of pensions. The Union (UCU) seems to have no single voice while the employers range from Warwick’s VC – seeking a solution, , to a couple of elite institutions seeking to immunise themselves from the cost of failure elsewhere.
What is clearly needed is less machismo and more emotional intelligence. I don’t know these teachers, but I suspect that if they were in charge of negotiations, things would be a little less fraught!