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Academic Idol: Round Eleven




Peter Gainsford and John McDowall this week are the unlucky leaving two. With John McDowall taking out the bronze.
Peter Gainsford, without the on campus profile of many lecturers in the competition, constantly wowed everyone with verbally dextrous answers. Who can forget his German beer garden antics? Crazy.
John McDowall was the risqué dark horse of the competition. He wasn’t afraid to get saucy. He was pure noir, his blondes leggy and his spirits straight.
Both of them helped make this competition great, and I can safely say that everyone here at Salient is sad to see the back of them. They put in ten weeks yak into the reality journalism gruel and we are indebted to them.
But the competition moves on. McLauchlan, the law vet, against Redmond, the rogue British cinematic upstart. It’s a battle that is thematically epic, old versus new, local versus foreign, arts versus law, Kelburn versus Pipitea. It’ll be like Waterworld II, but on dry land, and without Kevin Costner.
The voting lines stay open for two weeks, closing on Thursday the 12th of October at 6pm. Stay tuned next week for in depth profiles of the two finalists. In the words of that weird boxing announcer, “Let’s get it on.”
The question this week brought it all back down to why we are here:

What is the difference between a memorable, great lecturer and a lecturer who is eventually consigned to the backshelf of a student’s memory?
Votes online at www.salient.org.nz, to 021 1694608, and to editor@salient.org.nz.
David McLauchlan (Law)
Truly great lecturers (as opposed to popular entertainers who are good for a laugh) are first and foremost active in research and scholars in their field, for otherwise their teaching will be superficial. They are passionate about their subjects and enthusiastic in delivering their classes. They really want to be in the classroom. They can inspire students and excite interest in what might appear to be the dullest of subjects. They have thought deeply about their course goals and prepare for class meticulously. They are always thinking about how to improve their performance. They do not simply impart information, which can probably be found in textbooks anyway, but seek to challenge students to think critically about the course material. They do not underestimate the students’ willingness to learn and to be challenged, but at the same time they have realistic workload expectations. They care for their students’ welfare. They set fair assessment and certainly do not seek to trick students in examinations. Most importantly, they have a sense of humour and don’t take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, for unmemorable lecturers, teaching is a chore, and they have few, if any, of the above qualities. Fifty minutes in their classes seems like an eternity.
Sean Redmond (Film)
We’re going to have the best-educated American people in the world.” Dan Quayle.
Lecturing is a passion of mine: I share that passion with my students. I let the films I talk about hurt me, move me, and get inside me. The skin of film and the skin of me collide. I try to bring the life of film alive in the lecture space, its beauty, its terror, its texture. I am a romantic at heart: great teaching is full of romance.
“The only educational aspect of television is that it puts the repair man’s kids through college.” Joan Welsh
Today I am Charlie Chaplin, but I have also been Bowie, Leif Memphis (my celebrity alter-ego) and Master Red. I try to make the lecture space performative, intertextual and interactive. I want it to feel like we are in the movie, taking part, in love with, or angry at its emotional centre. Charlie waddles to the front and a cream pie is slammed in his face. This I stutter, is the pie-in-the-face gag.
I won’t say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: what I’m going to be if I grow up. Lenny Bruce.
Self-important, over-blown and empty on the inside, the didactic lecturer bellows out words, notes, old ideas that no one listens to. In their hands, the lecture space is a strange museum and education in it a zombie-like monstrosity that destroys critical autonomy and creative imagination.
“Right Banks, you bastard! I’m the daddy now, next time, I’ll fucking kill ya!” Scum (1979) Carlin (Ray Winstone)
Yo. cut it.
Soy un perdedor
I’m a loser baby, so why don©ˆt you kill me?
(double barrel buckshot)
Soy un perdedor
I’m a loser baby, so why don©ˆt you kill me?
Running through my arteries and veins right now is a love of life and the possibilities that it offers my students and me. We are all, always a matter of becoming, capable of great transformations. Look I say, feel I say, think freely I say about these ideas, arguments, let them change you and let you change them. Look, look at the beauty of that shot. “In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.” Frantz Fanon