1st September always seems to signal the start of a new academic year. Attention turns to teaching which starts in just a few short weeks, the research done and not done over the summer, the sort of inevitableness of the academic cycle and the fact that once teaching hits it won’t be long until Christmas – but it will feel long because there’s no half term or break to let you draw breath. I remember the last couple of early Septembers as being times to grit my teeth and tackle everything with a ‘right, here we go again then’ attitude. However, I also remember early Septembers which were full of the ‘back to school’ excitement – the same excitement I used to feel as a child shopping for new notebooks and pens and folders. You know what I’m talking about, right? That promise that a new academic year holds, things to learn, to discover, to talk about, to read, to find out…
Today I realised that I am recapturing some of that magic of the childhood back to school wonder. I start new job on Monday and the closer it gets the more excited I am. I am no longer anxious or worried about it, I am just excited. Excited to get back into the classroom, excited to see what a new academic year in a new institution holds, excited to push my research forward, excited about the conversations I’ll have and also quite excited to head upstairs to my study at some point today and choose a new notebook from the collection of notebooks I seem to have amassed over the last couple of years. I’ve stuck to boring, ruled, institution supplied ones for the last year at least. Now I feel it is time to choose something else. A new notebook for a new chapter of my academic career.
So on Monday I start as a Senior Lecturer in Law at Leeds Beckett University. Once I decided I was leaving Bradford, I knew that if I was going to go for another job in academia it would have to be something that allowed me to get back to teaching and to my research and to make a real contribution. I have been told again and again that I did a good job in management, and maybe I did, but I don’t get excited about it. In just 2 years it managed to extinguish the September magic. Now that September magic is back and I intend to hang onto it with both hands – sod that, I’ll sit on it if I have to.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suddenly cured of the crap of the previous job. I can’t read my previous blog post without crying or without feeling slightly sick. I am cautious, very cautious, all institutions are mad and the sector is in a right mess. I know all this and I am not going into my new role with rose tinted glasses. I still wonder if I am good enough sometimes; I will, I’m sure, get frustrated at the idiocy of things but that’s not what this is about. It’s about new beginnings, it’s about the promise of those new beginnings, about the excitement and wonder and about hanging onto that promise and the excitement for as long as possible into the academic year – and then finding ways to renew them.
Thank you for all the lovely, kind and inspiring messages of support. Please join me as I step onto the next rollercoaster in my journey through this academic theme park.