Saturday, November 5, 2016

Send in the clowns.

Placement test

Read the sentences below.

Complete the sentences with the following words - a number of answers may be possible: 

a) student b) women c) diverse d) global south d) different e) teacher f) clown g) beggar h) other

"We really need to have more [............. ] voices at this conference."

"Wouldn't it be great if there were more [................]voices at this conference."

"It would be much better if we had [.........................] voices at this conference."

What are you?

What are you?


It was a first.

I attended a round table organised by students at my institution, there were teachers, professionals and students.

It was a breath of fresh air.

It happened once.

Send in the clowns.

I remember watching a conference where "top students" were wheeled on to perfom as "student voices."  

The accolades went mainly to the researcher who had invited his, these, the "student voices" to perform.

It felt suspiciously like tokenism.

The student voices didn't continue to attend the conference year after year, they would be replaced with other generic "student voices."

The price is right.

I watched Sarah Goldrick- Rab's conference about the costs of higher education in the USA.

Whatever we may say about higher education being about developing the soul, insight, the mind, citizenship etc, we are faced with a social and economic reality.

How many students do you know who do not think of higher education as being a means to improve their future lives?

How many students have the time or the money or frankly the interest to attend conferences?

Beggars can't be choosers...


I found the conference keynote carefully filed away in my bedside table.

This is its story:

The cost is what is left.

I heard Kate Bowles talk about the cost of attending a conference not just in economic terms but in ecological terms.

Over the past few years, in more and more institutions international conferences are less and less accessible to all but a small number of elite academics from a small number of elite countries.

In my own context, trips to conferences are seen not as essential work but as a special treat.

But frankly do we have time to worry about the South Pacific?

Words of wisdom

"The perfect unfairness of this is that when we limit another’s voice, we create an ecosystem reliant upon limitation. And that’s the ecosystem in which we now swim. We can’t ask for freedom to take risks, to follow our own curiosity — to be scholars — if we don’t offer that freedom to others."

Sean Michael Morris

Do we have the freedom to offer freedom to others?

I read David Kernohan on academic metrics: All the words of wisdom sound the same. 
he gives a historically documented account of a system which stands to reward the good and great who recognise each other as good and great.

Who the fuck cares about student voice?

Who the fuck cares about voices when they don't fucking count for your fucking reputation?

Reputation is all that counts.

The absent are always wrong.

A party, a bunch of like-minded peers, hell you drown your conscience, sing and dance.

"It's my party and I'll cry if I want to."

The students would hate it.

The cost of what is left.

"Why do losers remain losers?"
"Cos the game is fixed?"

Research question

Why are there not more 

a) student b) women c) diverse d) global south d) different e) teacher f) clown g) beggar h) other

Voices at conferences 

Send in the clowns.

Isn't it rich? Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground and you in mid-air
Send in the clowns

Isn't it bliss? Don't you approve?
One who keeps tearing around and one who can't move
But where are the clowns? Send in the clowns

Just when I stopped opening doors
Finally finding the one that I wanted was yours
Making my entrance again with my usual flair

Sure of my lines
Nobody's there

Don't you love a farce? My fault, I fear
I thought that you'd want what I want, sorry my dear
But where are the clowns? Send in the clowns
Don't bother they're here

Isn't it rich? Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career
But where are the clowns? Send in the clowns
Well, maybe next year


  1. Condolences in the margins through the Gervais/McLeod filter.

  2. Yours is the post we should annotate as a crazy mob. So many more opportunities for creative destruction and reconstruction.

  3. Still toiling in the marginal vineyards.