The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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7:22pm on Tuesday, 13th May, 2008:

Waiting to Fly


Here I am at Heathrow, waiting for the gate to open for my flight to Copenhagen.

I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to make it, but I was lucky: the bus from West Bergholt to Colchester railway station was unusually undelayed, and the 16:03 from Colchester to London was usually delayed, so I managed to get onto the latter and ... oh, you're no more interested in reading this than I am than writing it.

The reason I thought I might be late was because I had to hang around at the university until 3pm, as 6 of my students were taking one of my exams (well, 6 of them were supposed to be taking it; I don't know how many actually showed up). There's some regulation or other hailing from gawd-knows-what obscure level of university administration that says lecturers have to be in their offices and reachable by phone whenever one of their examinations is being taken. I managed to get special dispensation to leave after an hour, because one of my colleagues agreed to cover for me. If I'd left an hour later, at the end of the exam, it would have been touch and go as to whether I'd have reached Heathrow in time for my flight.

As it happens, if I had decided not to ask to leave early, I almost certainly wouldn't have made the flight. The reason is that one of the students on my course has dyslexia and gets an extra 30 minutes to do a 2-hour examination. Yes, that's a 25% bonus. I don't know which of my students has the problem, despite having marked an assignment that they handed in in five, weekly installments, so either this dyslexia has come on suddenly or the other five students should be asking to be assessed for it, too.

The process that surrounds these exams is stifling. We're told when to pick up our exams to mark them, when to hand them to the general office to be second-marked, when to pick up the papers we're second-marking, and when to had them back. There are no sanctions that can be invoked against us if we choose to ignore any of this, so a good many members of staff will do just that. This will cause the administrative staff to draw up even stricter rules next year, crushing those of us who follow them but having no effect on those that can't be bothered to do so.

We have special marking orders, too, after comments by the external examiner last year. We have to put a mark on every every page to show it's been marked, but we're not allowed to use the traditional method of striking out the bits we've looked at. That's going to make it a pain to track whoat's been marked in shared papers. I'm planning on using a rubber stamp to indicate which pages I've looked at. I haven't decided whether to use one that says RICHARD or go for something sarcastic instead like a princess. Or maybe I should use stick-on stars, like primary school teachers do?

Process — it's just another chain holding me down.

I'm waiting to fy.

Referenced by Marks.

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).