Laurie Taylor column

March 22, 2002

" Peer observation of teaching is being held up as the next big quality tool " - THES , March 15

Ah, Professor Lapping. Please sit down. Welcome to the Peer Observation Exercise.

Look here, Derek, there's no reason to be so damned formal. We've been working together for nearly 30 years.

Now, the lecture that I observed was part of your first-year course on Structural Analysis. Is that right?

Of course it is.

Well, I have to confess that structuralism is one of my all-time favourite subjects. But I'm afraid I can't say that any more after listening to the way you handled it. You somehow never made the subject your own.

There was no real empathy between you and your audience. Your voice was flat and uninteresting and on the whole you failed to persuade me that you were a full professor.

Have you quite finished?

I also felt that your choice of clothes was unfortunate. And although there were signs that you might improve with better material, I had the overall feeling that you were eating a doughnut while the rest of us waited in vain for the jam to come through.

It never did.

I also felt that you were not totally at ease with the blackboard pointer.

Is that all?

It's possible that you might come across better if you were to lose some gravitas. The word that kept springing to mind as I watched you moving around the rostrum was "fat".

Now, I don't want you to be disappointed by these comments. Not everyone can be an overnight A. J. P. Taylor or David Starkey.

Your distinctive style of lecturing might do very well in a slightly different setting.

How do you mean?

Well, I was wondering if you'd given any serious thought to the northern club scene?

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