Laurie Taylor – 19 July 2018

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

July 19, 2018
Illustration of a murdered man with blood coming out of his head
Source: Getty Montage

Ding-dong, the don is dead

We regret to report the brutal murder of one of Poppleton’s senior academics.

According to police reports, Dr Liam Poster of our Department of Earth Sciences was found lying in a pool of his own blood at the bottom of the stairs leading to his tutorial office early yesterday afternoon.

Shortly after the discovery, the Poppleton police announced that another of our leading academics, Professor Roger Windows, the only surviving member of our Department of Medieval Philosophy, had been taken into custody and formally charged with the brutal slaying.

What could possibly lie behind this appalling tragedy?

Mr Ted Odgers of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies believes that the catastrophe was the “inevitable outcome” of the battle between two very different views on the best way to capture student attention in lectures.

Dr Poster, the murdered man, was apparently a passionate disciple of Professor Patricia Owen-Smith of Oxford College, Emory University, who only recently, in the pages of Times Higher Education, characterised her method in the following distinctive manner: “I begin our class with the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl.”

But, if Mr Odgers’ analysis is to be believed, Dr Poster’s wholehearted commitment to Tibetan donging inevitably brought him into conflict with Professor Windows, who had been very influenced by recent Birmingham City University research in which students who engaged in 10 minutes of silent mindfulness meditation before a lecture were better able to recall its contents. “That was quite enough for me,” wrote Professor Windows on his website. “I now begin all my lectures by asking students to maintain absolute silence and focus on nothing other than their own breathing, how their chest rises and falls, how their belly pushes in and out, and how their lungs expand and contract. It is a classic mindfulness exercise.”

Mr Odgers claims that the conflict between Dr Poster and Professor Windows, the battle between the so-called Tibetan Dongers and the so-called Birmingham Breathers, came to a head when, apparently under the instigation of Dr Poster, several students invaded one of Professor Windows’ lectures and disrupted his silent breathing mindfulness session by loudly and gratuitously donging a significant number of Tibetan singing bowls.

Mr Odgers was anxious to stress that he, personally, was neither a Donger nor a Breather. Indeed, when it came to gaining full student attention at the beginning of a lecture he believed that few techniques could rival that displayed by his own head of department, Professor Gordon Lapping, who had recently arrived 10 minutes late for his second-year lecture on Gender Fluidity, stumbled up the steps leading to the lectern, fallen heavily across the cable leading to the overhead projector and ended up impaling himself on the business end of the blackboard pointer.

Mr Odgers was, however, reluctant to compare this highly successful attention-grabbing technique with that employed by either the Dongers or the Breathers. In his uncharacteristically judicious words, “Clearly, more research is needed.”

Whither Poppleton?

Concerns about the future of our institution intensified last week following reports that an advertisement had been placed online for “An Entertainments Manager”. Although the proliferation of managers is now an accepted feature of higher education, the nature of this latest appointment raises new concerns about the future of our beloved university.

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