And talking of expectation, our tutor is now getting to the end of the time allowed by the OU for her to complete the marking. She is allowed ten working days and, allowing for empty weekends she should only have a couple of days left to get everything done and sent back to us. We will see. In my experience both staff and students are quite cute when it comes to making the most of the time available when it is there for the taking!
As this is a full 60-credit course I need to find out what priorities the tutor has because she is going to be sole arbiter of my mark. There is no examination; everything is going to be done by assignment, so knowing what makes such a person tick is pretty important. To be fair the OU does give a vast amount of information about how the stuff is going to be assessed, but however proscriptive the description there is always wiggle-room for personal interpretation. And anyway this is all about personal interpretation. There is only so much that can be give for accuracy and following the rules, this is, after all Creative Writing and therefore there must be a certain amount of latitude for personal taste to influence the final mark.
I suppose that writing is fairly close to my heart and I value the skill that I think that I have. As a teacher I am well able to evaluate a piece of writing I have, after all been doing that for all of my professional career, I also know that I am much more than competent in dashing off a response to a limited exercise which can impress with its flashy imagination and facile style. It is taking it a step further, which is what I want this course to do for me, that is the worrying part. The importance is not linked to some sort of paper qualification but to something which is rather more central to my life – my belief in my ability to self-evaluate. Perhaps teachers are the worst of all students in needing the comfort of peer group evaluation! Doesn’t make it any easier!
My swim today was exceptional and I went beyond what I have done recently! Though admittedly in a sort of low-key way. I have no idea what sportsmen and women are talking about when they say that they are able to break through the pain barrier. Does it actually mean anything at all? Pain is nature’s way of telling you to stop. We should always listen to pain because it always has the possibility of using the weapon of the ultimate silence to those who will not hear! Do these mythical sportspeople have a gene which allows them to self-medicate? Rubbish, they are simple masochists. Pure and simple.
My ‘pain barrier’ is finding a rhythm and feeling that, if I wanted to I could swim for ever. Now in reality I have no intention of going over my self-imposed limit of 30 minutes and it is only the continuation of a particularly interesting track humming its way through my cheekbones that ever takes me over that limit. But that steady, many would say monotonous, churning of the water with strong, methodical, almost effort free strokes is a pleasant mode to be in. It does take effort and I am well aware of that at all times, but in my own small way it is a technique of going beyond.
Toni is now obsessed by his course and it drives him relentlessly. He complains about the work and the lack of response from some of his tutors, but the maniacal gleam in his eyes tells you that this is what his life has been leading up to! In a way I feel that about my course too, though the fear of what I am supposed to create by the end of it is something which I find intimidating all these months before. I know that at the turn of the year the speech towards the end of the course will increase and I will join in the hysteria of all the other students who begin to wail their inadequacies to the moon! Though that is an accepted perk of doing distance learning, I understand!
Since the clocks have gone back the nights have drawn in with a terrifying velocity and its now only half past six but it is black. I am already beginning to long for the expansive days of summer! Greed has always been one of my besetting sins!
I am now almost through the second box of new CDs which are being put into the computer, only the box of Das Alte Werk to go and I will have added 150 discs to my system! Amazing, and all of them quality. Not quality for Toni perhaps but for me yes! There is a lot on these discs with which I am not familiar and so I could start another learning curve and get some obscure music under my belt and into my ears – or I could just wait for the ‘random’ program to give it to me eventually. Which seems a much use of my time. I am listening to selected discs, but purely on the basis of absolute self-indulgence!
Tomorrow my new Kindle (!) and more deep thinking about the unfairly attractive watch in the local shopping centre!