So there’s this joke, Alan Davies told it on QI and it’s done the rounds – basically it’s two guys talking, one’s a good bee-keeper and one’s not and the punchline is ‘fuck’em they’re only bees”. It’s funny because, well, I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with taking on board all that responsibility and adulthood and caring and shit, and throwing it all away in a punchline. Fuck’em.
I recently left a Northern English University. I already have one degree, this was a Masters course loosely connected with art and stuff. I left it mid-way through and not because I’d finished the degree with a piece of paper and a happy experience. I left because the teaching sucks. Big time. The university had got great big plush buildings that contrast sharply with its local town in their slick, modern, groomed grandiosity, it’s got a high opinion of itself and it’s got a bunch of lecturers for whom ‘fuck’em they’re only students’ is their working brief. I say working, but there’s a strong argument that that’s the only acquaintance with the concept of labour they appear to have.
They live in a world where speaking to students is a massive inconvenience and emailing them back is optional, where they can mark an essay without apparently having read it, where literacy is an advantage, not a requirement and where their mendacity is only matched by their willingness to shirk their responsibilities. I’ve had better lectures from street preachers, more fruitful tutorials on YouTube and a greater sense of abiding interest in my work from, well, everyone, everywhere, all the time.
Students at the university of this town are not well served by the staff, many of whom appear to live by the notion that students are cash cows, impediments to their important work (yeah, right) and a bloody nuisance.
For this service they get long holidays, a very decent wage, a less than onerous work load and paid trips abroad from time to time. They have to live in the vicinity of Huddersfield I guess but hey, it could be worse. Students of course have to pay through the nose for this and accumulate huge debts. So everyone’s happy right? Fuck’em, they’re only bees.