Rich Pickings: Creative Professional Development Activities for University Teachers offers both inspiration and practical advice for academics who want to develop their teaching in ways that go beyond the merely technical, and for the academic developers who support them. Advocating active engagement with literary and nonliterary texts as one way of prompting deep thinking about teaching practice and teacher identities, Daphne Loads shows how to read poems, stories, academic papers and policy documents in ways that stay with the physicality of words: how they sound, how they look on the page or the screen, how they feel in the mouth. She invites readers to bring into play associations, allusions, memories and insights, to examine their own ways of meaning making and to ask what all of this means for their development as teachers. Bringing together scholarship and experiential activities, the author challenges both academics and academic developers to reject narrowly instrumental approaches to professional development; bring teachers and teaching into view, in contrast with misguided interpretations of student-centredness that tend to erase them from the picture; claim back literary writings as a source of wisdom and insight; trust readers’ responses; and reintroduce beauty and joy into university teaching that has come to be perceived as bleak and unfulfilling.
This book does not attempt to construct a single, coherent argument but rather to indicate a range of good things to choose from. Readers are encouraged to explore the overlaps and the gaps.
Daphne Loads, EdD, SFHE, is an academic developer in the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh, UK. She writes on academic identities and arts-enriched academic development.
"Although a slim volume, Rich Pickings is indeed a treasure trove of delightful vignettes plus some really useful ideas. It comprises 26 chapters, which are mainly only a page or two in length but feel much longer in terms of the richness of the material, and while it was written by an academic developer this is not a ‘how to run a class’ type of book. It is much, much more than that. It is provocation, it is challenge, it is a tiny, power-packed ideas generator, and for me, it is a book for our time."
- Lorraine Anderson, University of Dundee, in: Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice Vol 8 | Issue 1 (2020), p. 163
"Every so often a little book crosses your path, stops you in your tracks and encourages you to look at the world around you with a different set of eyes. Rich Pickings is one such book. [...] Each chapter is accompanied by a line drawing that really enhances its theme and speaks to visual thinkers. Daphne’s book is a testament to the power of prose that is short and succinct to grab our attention and really make us reflect on what we’re doing in our campus classrooms. [...] Read it. It will brighten your day and make you think differently about who you are and how you teach." - Hazel Christie, Institute for Academic Development, University of Edinburgh, in: Scottish Higher Education Developers "We often speak of different forms of writing as if they are different animals altogether, and our expectations of what these forms are capable of and how they are appreciated, as well as how they are produced, are very different. We can see these divisions everywhere — in the variation in product design between which different forms are shared (newsprint, book, blog, pamphlet, magazine, television), in the way these forms are organised in libraries or online and in the way they are taught at schools and universities. The separation between ‘creative writing’ and ‘academic writing’ feels entrenched at university level, and yet as a creative writer myself, I am increasingly drawn to explore the lyric essay, the poetic memoir… types of writing that defy formal distinctions and allow the writer to employ the best of what each form has to offer — being able to play with language, word placement on the page, thesis and argument, memory, description and imagination. Daphne’s own elegantly-composed and carefully considered language posits vital questions to those writing, and perhaps struggling to write, academic papers — why does it feel painful? Why can’t it be beautiful? Would it be easier to think through academic writing (the creation of it, the understanding of it) if we approached it like poetry; something difficult but breathtakingly meaningful, a rich art that does not use language like a conveyor belt to deliver ideas but like cocoons opening to release butterflies into sunlight. We are often unaware of the prejudices we have been taught regarding ‘serious, difficult academic writing’ and ‘emotive, aesthetically-obsessed creative writing’, and it may be these very prejudices that are causing us to hit blocks when we attempt to generate important contributions to academia. [..] Academics are under increasing pressures, squeezed between mounting priorities and demands on their time, and this book comes like a caressing hand on a tense shoulder to offer another way in to reading and writing research: taking joy in the music of creation, sculpting our most precious thoughts, and sharing what we’ve learned in a way that carries each reader with us, deep into our own learning." - J.L. Williams
Foreword J. L. Williams Acknowledgements
2 Poetry and Policy Policy to Poetry
When Poetry’s the Policy
3 A Stupid Way to Eat a Peach
4 Close Reading
5 Slow Reading
6 What’s the Use of Literature?
7 What Do Academic Developers Do?
8 You Gotta Have Soul
9 Taming the Wild Profusion of Existing Things
10 “Ankle-Deep in Aviation Fuel” or “More than Violets Knee-Deep”?
11 How to Make a Dadaist Poem: Method of Tristan Tzara
15 The Possibilities of Human Misunderstanding
17 Cut-up and Collage
20 Aleatory Poetry
21 Play at Work: On Arts-Enriched Reflection
22 Threshold Concepts and the Student-as-Vampire Amy Burge
23 Revisiting Deep and Surface Reading
24 The Power of Anecdotes
25 A Symposium and a Song
University Lecturers and other academics who want to develop their teaching in ways that go beyond the merely technical, and the Academic Developers who support them