Well that's the end of my stint as a student supervisor at the local college. Just looking forward to a few days next month as exam invigilator. It has been an interesting experience. I've loved every minute and I've learned a lot.
The corridors are full of posters. Many of these posters display academic information which has been put together by students of the different faculties. Therefore I've managed to get a bit of an education merely by patrolling past the classrooms. For example I've learned about chemicals associated with death. Poisons such as cyanide, strychnine and arsenic. Gases associated with dying – cadaverine and putrescine. Chemicals used in forensics such as formaldehyde. I have read articles on philosophy, psychology sociology, art and literature. I have discovered what career options are open to students of music, dance and media studies. I found out what the college does to support students with various disabilities and it came as a shock to me that a student can arrive there, having struggled to gain several GCSEs, only to be diagnosed with dyslexia. Surely, in this day and age, it should have been picked up sooner? I now know what mobile phones can do to the capillaries in the brain (something to do with breaking down proteins) and I understand that scientists now think they know what causes ME (something to do with retroviruses – whatever they are).
I've also learned never to underestimate the stupidity of youth. Here is where I explain The Bilborough Challenge. There are four floors and two lifts. The idea of the challenge is that a student gets in one lift on the bottom floor and makes their way to the top while removing all their clothes. They then run along the top landing, past the student lounge, while carrying their clothes. They get into the other lift and get dressed on the way down. It seems harmless fun but if anyone is caught it will go down on their record. We managed to discourage it this Christmas but they got up to other things instead.
Many of the misdemeanours are trivial. Dropping litter, feet on the tables, paper planes off the balcony – stuff like that. Some infractions are more serious and have to be dealt with appropriately. A lot of the time we are trying to stop them injuring themselves. They seem to think it's o.k. to take short cuts across the furniture until one of them slips off a table top and sprains their ankle. They think it's macho to take swigs from a bottle of chilli sauce until several of them get it in their eyes and we have a first aid room full of kids needing treatment.
Fridays are always sexual health day. There are various items they can pick up for free in addition to the opportunity to get checked out. This results in the staff having to clean out the student lounge of inflated condoms, tables covered in spermicidal cream and underwear with 'I've been screened' printed on. In my day they just told us not to do it until we were married.
Having said all this, they are capable of channelling their energy into more productive activities. Just in the few weeks I have been there they have raised hundreds of pounds for various charities via a Santa fun run, a sponsored head shave and selling cakes. Despite the usual stereotype image of idle students, many of them work extremely hard. Even on the final day of term, when Christmassy-type activities were going on all around, I saw many in the refectory, in study areas and sitting under stairwells with their books out. They were either reading, testing each other or scribbling notes. I sincerely wish that they achieve all that they deserve.
A Merry Christmas to them all. And of course to you, my fellow bloggers.