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Archive for February, 2012

The normally pristine and stately Garden Common Room has temporarily been transformed into what looks like the tent city outside St Paul’s while they fix the water-damaged ceiling. Sometimes the fact that this is a 150 year-old building is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, the main reception area now has several large sofas for people to use while they wait for their taxis and so on…

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Just over a year ago I undertook another month-long challenge on this blog. Rather than a different photo each day I undertook to follow a fairly long interview protocol designed to explore and reflect on my own personal narrative.

The second post of that sequence was a pre-amble, a word or two about definitions and various models of reflection, by way of setting the scene for what was to come next. The model I mentioned in that post, that of Atkins and Murphy developed in nursing training, and I have noticed that even after 12 months it still receives a steady stream of hits.Atkins and Murphy, it seems, is fairly often searched for on Google.

This prompted me to revisit that blog entry and see what I had said, and whether my thinking has changed since. As to what I wrote, I’m actually quite pleased with it – I think what I said makes some sense and holds together. At the same time, my feeling about models has changed. I’m no longer so sure that they are the be-all and end-all for understanding reflection. Do people really follow the phases, and if they don’t, well does that mean they’re not reflecting? Do we shoe-horn what is actually happening into these labels and categorisations?

I’m sure that a model can be helpful up to a point, but is also an invitation to miss both the subtlety of the learning process and the myriad elements which just don’t fit on the page or the in the paradigm of the researchers who came up with it. In the Atkins and Murphy case, ultimately it boils down to a mix of good ol’ North American pragmatism/behaviourism/scientific method (echoes of Kolb) mixed with a dash of mild critical reflection that can incorporate a questioning of underlying assumptions and inclusion of room for emotion and feeling.

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This is the entrance hall at Greenlands, with the reception desk this evening under the control of Jenny. It’s everyone’s second impression of Henley (the first is the view of the house at the end of the long drive), and therefore it’s a very important part of whatever makes Henley the experience it is.

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Nothing feels nicer than a newly stacked couple of cubic metres of dry, mature firewood logs. Plus, I g0t an hour’s exercise carrying it in from the roadside to the garage first thing this morning, while my neighbours got woken by the very loud noise they made being tipped from the truck!

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Had to wait to the end of the day to catch this photo opportunity. HB42, an intake of the Flexible MBA at Henley, attending the final residential workshop of their programme, after a special “bonus” Personal Development session with me at the end of their regular workshop day, sit down to enjoy a private supper to mark the occasion. We usually set these events up in the private dining room areas at Greenlands, which adds the sense of accomplishment (even though they still have to write their final projects!)

But here they are, two and a half years in, still smiling…

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My office (one part of it, anyway) seems to have turned into the Bat Cave, full of gadgets and screens, most of which seem oriented toward one of two themes:

1. creating, fiddling with and tedious stitching together of the PhD (the bookshelves not in view here play their own, groaning, part in this as they bear both witness to and the weight of my Magpie-like joy in collecting old books on my subject)

2. a whole set of electronic activities designed to keep me in touch with colleagues, students, family, friends and acquaintances. And, of course, provide distraction from getting on with point 1 above.

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We’re now at the half way point in this month-long series of photos. So far, the experience of coming up with what to photograph and what then to place online here, with what sorts of image enhancement and what sort of accompanying text, has been a mix of pleasure and chore. But I’d been thinking about inclusion of today’s shot for a while – to give it enough forethought to ask the sitters to let me know which day and time would suit them. This is in part a recognition of the active and on-demand nature of their jobs, and in part also my respect for the work that they do.

So, I present the “Post Room” staff here at Henley Greenlands. To appreciate why I wanted to photo them you might first need to spend some time working or, especially, teaching here. Henley has quite a lot of teaching spaces and places and sometimes, if, for example, we are very busy with many programmes in, the potential for confusion and lack of room readiness would be great. But not here. Not only does our post room team sort and deliver the mail, they are also responsible for making sure that every room is clear, laid out as requested, and ready for the group to work in. And invariably it is. What’s more, they do this tireless task with such efficiency and good humour that I’m sure our clients and students notice. And that, dear senior management (anywhere),
is what customer service is all about.

From left to right: Jim, Dave, Darren, Vilma and Alan. Not pictured is Tim.

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It’s Valentine’s Day, and this street scene felt a little like a piece of New Orleans visits Broad Street in Oxford. The jazz, coupled with the antics of the fella with the umbrella, was infectious. Who knows why they were there, but they emerged from one of the College quads…

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