There was no need to go all the way to Lapland if you wanted to meet Father Christmas this week. All you had to do was walk into the atrium of our Michael Gove College on Tuesday morning this week and you’d have found him busily dispensing little Christmas gifts to a crowd of needy Poppleton recipients.
Only those in the know could have guessed that beneath that voluminous red gown and that long white beard lurked the familiar campus figure of Professor Lapping of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies.
In between handing out gifts, “Santa” Lapping found a moment to explain the reasons behind his “alter ego” to our reporter Keith Ponting (30). “This is a magical time of year,” said Lapping, “but it’s all too easy to forget that not everyone has a reason to celebrate.
“And that’s why I’m doing my best to bring a little seasonal colour to the cheeks of all these sad and deprived wan-faced boys and girls who have to face life without the resources that the rest of us take so much for granted, who have to face an uncertain future without money, without hope and largely without prospects.”
Professor Lapping said that the gift-giving provided its own personal rewards. “On the whole,” he told Ponting, “I can’t remember a single occasion when I’ve seen our departmental graduates looking quite so happy.”
Accustomed as I am
One of our leading departmental secretaries, Maureen, has come to the defence of the university lecture.
Maureen said that she was “well aware” of a recent article in Times Higher Education, which referred to “more than 700 studies” that had “confirmed that lectures are less effective than a wide range of methods for achieving almost every educational goal you can think of”.
However, Maureen told The Poppletonian that she believed that these studies overlooked the significance of the lecture to the actual lecturer. She instanced Dr Derek Quintock from her own Department of Media and Cultural Studies. “You can always tell when it’s his lecturing day. Out goes the dung-coloured corduroy jacket with the egg stains on the lapel. In comes the baggy tweed suit and the puce green and purple-striped tie of his alma mater.”
But, said Maureen, it was only after the lecture that the full effect could be seen. “As soon as Dr Quintock is back in my office, he starts regaling me with the jokes and aperçus from his lecture. Sometimes he’ll even reprise a particular section for my benefit. On one occasion, he actually stood on the first-year filing cabinet so that I could properly admire the professorial pose he struck at the denouement of his presentation.”
All in all, said Maureen, in these dispiriting times, lectures achieved the vital educational goal of making academics feel better about themselves. It was also reassuring to note, in the case of Dr Quintock, that this effect could be achieved in pedagogic circumstances that were not contaminated by the presence of actual students.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
“Would the person who stole or borrowed the figure of Vishnu from this year’s ecumenical crib please replace it in its correct position slightly to the left of Baby Jesus? Thank you.”