Thursday, 21 February 2013

Day 78: Work intensification, on a knife's edge.

Day 78 (21 Feb) Each morning is beginning to get that cooler feeling about it, a little harder to spring up and at it, particularly within five hours of getting to sleep. Still, until next week when classes start, one can appreciate a last little 'sleep-in' before the compulsory starts begin. It will be mostly about getting onto campus early enough to get a car park...growing pains at the university. 

Clear sky, at 6.12am
With everything on the boil in the kitchen, at 6.12am I was out the back feeding the loris, this time with some leftover fruit as well as their seeds. I didn't realise until I viewed the photo that it appears to be on a knife's edge. Metaphorical I suppose--the politics, the new semester, the calm before the storm. Tomorrow is orientation at a new campus with new students. It will be interesting, but more of that tomorrow. 

Back on the main campus however and it was again trying to finalise much work before the new semester begins. It is still orientation week so there are still new students around and taking the 'brave step' in some cases to knock on our doors. They want to ask advice, chat about courses, think about their future plans. It's always interesting. 

Twitter coffee
with @marygarden
Today as well I got to catch up with one of our postgrad students, a fellow tweep Mary @marygarden. A cyclist and tweeter, she came to campus to attend a function so naturally we took the chance to chat about her work. Like all good tweepsters then, we tweeted about it...with a quick pic to go with it of course. We're serious tweeps. I attended Mary's confirmation seminar last year, she presented her work on political blogs, I suggested she ought to get on twitter...and's good for a chuckle between us. ---->>

A short break and back to work (I believe Mary went for a ride...follow (#ff)  her to follow the lycra crowd). 

There was a union meeting planned for 1.00pm so technically I had about two hours to get on with some work. I don't know what happened but the time went quickly and then it was meeting time. 

One of the issues which comes up constantly now in the University sector is the work intensification. The increase in administrative tasks which must be completed in a day is beginning to break people and often one has to query the value of that work. It is happening to both academic and administrative staff. On our return trip home tonight my colleague and I were talking about how these tasks have taken away the time we need to think and mentally prepare and focus on our first lectures for the year next week. 

Stereotypical bananas, at 6.12pm
We are both determined to try and set aside some 'thinking' time this semester. I fear that probably means a desert island. I need to minimise these administrative demands. I fear the demands will only increase. I'm not sure it means we are giving of our very best sometimes. 

So, not surprisingly, at 6.12pm it is another view of the office. That's a week of work days now with me in the office...the next 50-day assessment is going to be pretty easy. 

I was at least thinking about the reading and discussion for the first tute in a week or so. This semester I teach a course about Japan. In some ways, in observing Japan we can see what happened some years ago there unfolding here in Australia, especially in workplace relations and education. For a while there was an expression karoshi, literally death by overwork. It's a phenomenon we need to ensure doesn't embed itself here. Sometimes the stereotypes we apply to others might be a lot closer to home than we care to realise. 

Other societies, other cultures, it's opening up for the new students. As my colleague said tonight, the lecture theatre may well become our place of refuge from the administrative chaos outside. 

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