Don's Diary

July 21, 2000

Friday

Rush to see press coverage of National Teaching Fellowships Scheme (NTFS). Is my picture in? Have they used my quotes? Begin to worry the recognition is going to my head. They say we award-winners have had a champagne-drenched fortnight. Do they know something I don't? The absence of quotations and photographs restores equilibrium. Management team meeting restores a sense of grim reality. Two items on the agenda: this year's budget and next year's budget. We do not quite complete the agenda.

Saturday

Follow last weekend's search for a black-tie outfit for the teaching awards ceremony with a hunt for accessories. I am not a black-tie person and we are ill-equipped. Lengthy discussion in Debenhams over which cufflinks match the shirt Trevor has loaned.

Sunday

Compose grovelling email to colleague in South Africa who is patiently waiting for me to complete the book we are co-authoring on business communication. I must get it finished. "You'll only start another one", is the comment from across the kitchen table.

Monday

Wall-to-wall meetings. Main discussion point is the company that wants to turn our courses into electronic distance learning. Funding, new technology and unending and ever-changing audit - an instant synopsis of contemporary higher education.

Tuesday

Meet colleagues from Malaysia to discuss our differing education systems. The conversation turns to funding, technology and audit - again.

Wednesday

Travel to London. Newspaper article about couple who went on holiday and came back to Pounds 10,000 worth of damage after their teenagers' party was announced on local radio. Luckily, our lads are mature and reliable. Ring home regularly.

Assemble in foyer of Chelsea Village for a charabanc to the NTFS reception. It is an honour to be part of a group that embodies commitment and enthusiasm.

At last, the champagne - two glasses of buck's fizz and I am ready to shake hands with Baroness Blackstone, minister for higher education. Presentations alternate with video footage of the winners, which causes a few giggles. My soundbite on the impact of information technology blends seamlessly with footage of steam trains at Keighley.

Thursday

Finish first Harry Potter. Could do with some of Professor Snape's potions on our budget. Work on how to spend the Pounds 50,000 prize. Feel guilty that so much attention has focused on the winners. I was pleased to be the university's nomination, knowing the quality of my competitors. But why didn't all nominees receive something to plough back into their teaching? Even a few new resources make a difference these days.

It is a far cry from my early days, when the only crisis in teaching was running out of fluid for the Banda machine.

Peter Hartley lectures at Sheffield Hallam University and was one of 20 winners at the first National Teaching Fellowships Scheme last week.

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