Teaching: on the front line

March 7, 2003

What is your experience of teaching? Pat Leon asks teachers how they manage

Name: Eryl Price-Davies Age:43 Job: Principal lecturer in radio and media, Thames Valley University.

Salary: Not enough.

Qualifications: Diploma in higher education in film, TV, dance, drama; BA contemporary cultural studies; PGCE drama; PhD - just about to submit.

Experience: Lots in drama - mostly acting, though some time ago. I was a professional musician. I've produced and presented radio programmes for community-student stations for eight years. I got into teaching when the person taking an Ealing College course on mass communications had a panic attack on the first day. I was phoned that night by someone I'd met doing my degree. Next morning I was in class. I suppose I got something right - I'm still at Thames Valley 14 years later.

Hours spent teaching: About 14 a week.

Hours on red tape: Peaks and troughs - five, 20 or more a week if deadlines are pressing or at squeeze points like the end of semesters or exam boards.

Hours on research: A day a week.

Teaching bugbear: Persuading students to take an interest in things not directly related to their course. So many have jobs and other commitments that it is hard to get them to attend performances and so on.

How would you solve it? Lessen students' financial burden. But there has also been a culture shift. More students are focused on their courses and less curious about other interests. In radio production, they are very good at acquiring skills, but less good at knowing how to use them.

Teaching tips: I really enjoy the annual Restricted Service Licence we run, where we broadcast on FM for a month. Seeing students get their first chances as real broadcasters, on a publicly available medium, is a real buzz.

Outside interests: My two children and playing the piano. I'm also involved with the Radio Studies Network, and the Community Media Association, and have been an external examiner for a decade.

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