I’m not quite sure how we got here and at such a pace. I’m in the in-betweenness where I’m not certain if I’m in it, or if it’s finished, or if I’m still mentally running through it in my head preparing for it next week, or the week after, or the year after.
There is such a good feeling in the room this morning. Not just of ‘see we have come through’ or indeed a sense of an ending, but we are buoyed up with the essential human sense of hope. As I go through my professional life I realise that more than knowledge, skills, strategies, plans, it is hope and relationships that sustain me. Why else would we get up, get out, get on?
Melatu is the first demo today, second last demo of the week, and our last demo from a SWIFT participant. Melatu reminds us of the importance of knowing our students. We surprise ourselves to find that we know some of them seemingly well, and others, maybe the ones least like ourselves or the quieter ones, we know less so. We resolve to be more mindful of our tendencies.
Melatu reminds us of world English and we read different extracts that capture the richness of various versions of English. It is good to do some reading again; we have been writing a great deal all week and it is interesting to bring our writerly selves to other reading.
We take a coffee break after which I contribute on the topic of academic writing. There is a good portion of higher education participants in this year’s institute and they will be very familiar with the demands the Academy makes in terms of writing. I suggest that good writing in higher education requires that we mind the GAPS i.e. Genre, Audience, Purpose and Stance. We see these considerations mattering in other writing too and we map the similarities, of which there are many, between an extract from a millinery-mad magazine and a journal article; humorous comments abound about the lack of frocks, hats and horses in the latter.
Lunch, which is a little more elaborate than previous days, is followed by Author’s Chair. Author’s Chair is my favourite part of the week. This is the moment where brave volunteers from the pop-up writing groups agree to read for we SWIFT Fellows. Author’s Chair is incredibly special. It is the moment when participants are moved to tears and doubled over with laughter. And so it is this year. The pleasure and the privilege of this part of the week never fails to affect me. I know that everyone in the room will remember this because of how it makes them feel. I know that I will need to tap into the unique character of this moment throughout the year to remind myself how significant moments such as this afternoon are and the importance of continuing to provide these precious spaces where we can be ourselves and share that authenticity courageously.
We finish with sighs. For all the power of writing, it is the closeness that we feel at this moment that I will remember most.
And I have the last words which can only be of joy and of gratitude.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.