Laurie Taylor column

September 6, 2002

Dear XXXXX

I'm delighted to learn that you'll soon be joining us for the first year of your degree in media and cultural studies.

You'll probably be feeling a little uncertain at the moment about what lies ahead. In order to resolve any such apprehension I'm now sending you the answers to some of the more commonly asked questions about the course:

Q. Are lectures and seminars compulsory?
A. Lectures and seminars are not compulsory. We believe that the "ethos of learning" that we cultivate in this department is incompatible with compulsion. But we also maintain that this ethos is one that should by its very nature incline all students to attend seminars and lectures whether they like it or not. Failure to attend may therefore be regarded as "anti-ethos" and attract heavy sanctions.

Q. Will my course begin as soon as I arrive at Poppleton?
A. Not exactly. All new students require a "period of orientation" during which they may acclimatise themselves to our ethos of learning and discover the actual name of their supervisor and the seminar groups to which they have been allocated. But you should certainly expect to be "hard at it" by late November.

Q. Will I receive as much direction with my work as I did from my school/college teachers?
A. Not really. Part of the ethos of learning involves the replacement of "educational spoon-feeding" with "self-motivated work". The surest sign that you are beginning to absorb this part of the ethos is an overwhelming sense during your first few months that you are being left to fend entirely for yourself.

Q. Is your door always open?
A. Indeed it is. Although the exigencies of administration necessarily mean that I will not always be in the actual room.

I do hope these answers are helpful and I look forward to dealing with other issues in subsequent correspondence.

Best wishes,

Professor Gordon Lapping
(signed in his absence)

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