Saturday, May 10, 2008

On not being over-modest...

I'm taking courage from Dr Virago's recent comments on the teaching award she won, to say how pleased I am to have been given an award, too. The University has decided this year to honour the work of mentoring, with two awards, one for academic and one for general/professional staff. They are both named after Pat Grimshaw, who recently retired as professor of history, and who continues to be a brilliant mentor, teacher and advocate. I've seen her being so courageous in some difficult times in the university, most notably speaking up against the development of the university's private branch that turned out to be so disastrous and has now been disbanded. So I'm honoured to try and follow in her footsteps of kindness and courage.

It is particularly delightful to me that the other winner is my friend Margot, who works in the Science Faculty. We had a funny exchange two weekends ago. We each knew the other had been nominated (well, I should confess that her staff nominated her; I asked my head of program to nominate me...), and had each received the call from the Provost, but the results hadn't been made public yet, and neither of us wanted to be the one to ask if the other had won! But Margot, generous as always, was the first to break the ice, and so now we are extremely pleased with ourselves and each other. In fact we are going out with a group tonight to a Turkish restaurant for her son Nick's 13th birthday (he and Joel were at childcare and primary school together), with a promises of a callipygous belly dancer. This is another reason I love Margot, for introducing me to the word callipygous!

Well, we don't get our awards till December, when they will be presented by the Vice-Chancellor at his annual Teaching and Learning Colloquium. I think we'll have to have some champagne to celebrate.

But the main reason I wanted to mention this on the blog is that my application said a few things about the Humanities Researcher blog, and Peter's nomination also made mention of it. This is what he wrote:

My second example of Stephanie’s skill at providing support and sharing knowledge with mentees is her now long-running, extensive, and widely read blog. We sometimes think of mentoring as involving face to face activities, but of course the WWW offers a dizzy range of new opportunities for being role-model and mentor to others. I won’t detail here the widening-circles of Stephanie’s blog, from its initial concern with ARC grant writing, to its rapid accumulation of additional narrative and thematic threads when Stephanie was diagnosed with cancer, to the blog (with its history) that we have today, which offers a unique exploration of the interactions between thought, life, friendship and family, the contexts from which intellectual work springs. In work such as this there is enormous scope for disaster as well as success. The undoubted, truly remarkable success of Stephanie’s blog, the extent to which it has touched people’s lives, is a profound testament to her skills as a mentor. The blog makes me realize anew the degree to which mentoring and being a role-model are central although often not acknowledged planks in “knowledge transfer”.


I should explain that "knowledge transfer" is the awkwardly-named but excellent idea that the university should be working in close contact with city, society, community, industry, etc. There are some tricky issues, here, but it's hard to disagree with the general principle here. But isn't this a lovely paragraph for Peter to write? I thought about over-modestly not blogging about the award, but then thought it would be nice to quote Peter's comments for anyone who's thinking about the social/pedagogical function of blogging. And after all, it looks as if Humanities Researcher played its part in the award, and the blog would have no life if it weren't for its lovely readers.

I can feel myself gearing up soon for a final onslaught on the first draft of my book, and sometimes wonder whether I will have time to keep blogging. But I reckon I will. I think it'd be good if I spent a little less time checking my sitemeter stats, but I also think that when the book insists on being written, as it is starting to, then everything will fall into place anyway.

5 comments:

David Thornby said...

Congratulations! Well done, and well deserved it is too.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I have already congratulated you in person but my good friend R loves this story and would like to add her own congratulations. Mentoring, particularly of young women, is the one thing she's still enthusiastic about after 20 years' hard graft for the UN.

meli said...

congratulations! and thanks for dispersing your mentoring skills the world over via this blog.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Thanks, all!

Dr. Virago said...

Just catching up post-Kzoo, so sorry for the lateness, but congratulations! And thank you for including that paragraph about your blog -- that is good for thinking about the functions of blogging.