Teacher audit

November 12, 2004

Name : Paul Harris

Age : 45

Job : Professor of screen media, University of Abertay Dundee

Salary : Professorial scale (up to c. £57,000)

Qualifications : Diploma in visual communication, Birmingham College of Art and Design (now UCE); professional qualifying exam, Institute of Incorporated Photographers; professional qualifying exam, Society of Industrial Artists and Designers.

Professional experience : I trained and worked in broadcast television, initially as a documentary editor and then as a lighting cameraman for the BBC and ITV. I became a freelance producer in 1988, and began teaching film and digital media in 1994, specialising in narrative development and visual language. Until 2002 I was head of film and television at Edinburgh College of Art. My current interests lie in the future of games, virtual environments and 3D cinema. I am chairman of the Angus Digital Media Centre and a board member of New Media Scotland.

Hours spent teaching : As many as is practical. I feel it is important not to lose sight of why I entered the profession.

Hours on red tape : Probably too many, but with more than one professional role, I'm far too discreet to say in which I encounter the most.

Hours on research : I devote the majority of my time to developing research, mostly in support of colleagues, although I intend to resume my personal practice-led research soon. It always seems to end up at the top of my new year's resolutions, but at the bottom of my "to do" list! I have a documentary on the go and many projects in interactive and virtual contexts in the pipeline.

Worst teaching moment? On the very first day of a teaching role in an inner-city college, a student pulled a knife on me. In defence of my lack of courage, I did last a further two days before "reassessing my future".

Best? When a student won a full British Academy Award. How can you compare that with any normal job reward? But for general day-to-day satisfaction, I still get a buzz when any of my former students drops me a line.

My teaching tips? I have two tips. The first is never constrain a student's ambitions within your own aspirational limitations and, conversely, never allow a student to stay within their own self-perceived capabilities and comfort zone. And second, respond to change in a philosophical and measured way. I used to think older men were slow off the mark, but now I understand them! I now relish positive change, which prevents life from stagnating. Personally, I cannot imagine a future in which I'm still doing precisely what I do now in even two years - let alone 20 years.

Outside interests : Life - warts and all.

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