I was checking my email at the airport in Sydney last week when I picked up a message from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, saying I had won one of their awards for university teaching. I've been sitting on this news for a couple of days, but there are reasons (beyond the usual narcissistic bloggy ones) for posting about it here.
The Council (formerly known as the Carrick Institute) has given 22 such national awards this year, just two in the Arts and Humanities area, though there are some awards dedicated to indigenous education, etc. The prize is $25,000(!) some of which I'll use to fund a little symposium on the teaching of medieval and medievalist literature, probably in 2010, when I return from my year's leave next year. There's a presentation dinner in Canberra at the end of November, when they'll announce one of these 22 winners to be the Prime Minister's Australian University Teacher of the Year. Ooh the suspense! I'm thinking of taking Joel as my guest, so he can get to see the Ruddster in his full glory.
Apart from the general loveliness of winning something you apply for (the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at Melbourne helped me re-shape my application for the mentoring award), I'm really chuffed about this award for four reasons:
- the Humanities Researcher blog played a big part in the application, so it's nice to see blogging being taken seriously in a pedagogical context
- it's good for medieval studies, which is often under threat in this country, to be given this profile
- it's good for English studies, which is often ridiculed as over-theorised in this country, to be given this profile
- it's good for the Arts faculty at Melbourne, which is increasingly being written about for its budgetary difficulties and its current programme of job-shedding. We are indeed about to enter a round of involuntary redundancies, so times are grim. Of course my award doesn't help those who are facing up to this brutal process, but it might be a reminder that the faculty is filled with dedicated teachers and researchers, who work hard to preserve that very delicate nexus between teaching and research.
I found a bottle of vintage Yarra Valley Chandon, and chilled it to drink with our friends on Friday night. Not to be outdone, Paul descended into the cellar (which he dug himself), and pulled out a bottle of St Henri (cousin to "the Grange"). Perfect accompaniments to ... pizza!