It never ceases to amaze me how many people outside academia think that once the summer term has ended we go on an 8 week holiday with nothing to concern ourselves but reading trashy novels and developing a good tan! However loudly I stamp my feet and shout that this isn’t so, the rumour persists! So, what will we lecturers really be doing in the next 2 months?
1. Research: for many full time lecturers teaching loads are rising to the point where most (apart from privileged professors or those with leave) cannot spare any time to do serious research during the Sept-June period. So many of us have been anxiously looking forward to the summer so that we can do some research online or in a library. Others might have a project to write up.
2. Designing new courses: in part attention is already turning towards September. If you have promised to deliver a new course next year, you will now have to get on and design the thing, producing materials for the students and working out what it is you want them to learn. This is a very rewarding part of the job, but it is also very time consuming. A lot of those precious summer weeks could be eaten up with this task. On top of that it’s important to update existing courses, providing new books on the bibliography but also changing the course depending on what worked last time.
3. Clearing. For those of us with admissions duties, A level results day in August brings a flurry of work as we work out which students who have missed their grades we still wish to accept and which students coming through clearing we should take on. This can be a hectic time, involving a great deal of admin and telephoning, and is about as far as you can get from relaxing on a beach!
So, while it’s lovely to be able to manage your own time and work from home if you want, please don’t assume that a lecturer will be doing nothing this summer. Many of us can’t even spare the time to take annual leave!