bus driver’s holiday


This week Patter will be posting every day –  coming to you almost live from Tate summer school for teachers.

Cultural and arts education is a big part of my day job and a lot of my research is in this field. So every now and then I turn this blog over to it. And blogging is an integral part of my approach to research. I regularly set up project blogs and use them in part as a means of thinking in public.

Those of you interested in ethnography will see that each of this week’s posts has two purposes – a single post works as a log of key activities on the day, and it also shows some preliminary thinking about what is going on. As my interest is in learning, that is what I will be thinking about.

This research is collaborative. I’ve worked together with the Tate Schools and Teachers team for a long time and we know what each other are about. We have a relationship which has built up over time through a lot of conversation and some co-writing.

But I missed summer school in 2017 and 2018. I’d been to the previous seven. However I was working on a big research project and I had to give this activity up. But this year it seemed as if it was well past the time to go back.

A big part of wanting to go back is that I have really missed the contact and conversation with the team. Those of you who are lucky enough to work with clever people who are not only really good at what they do, but also love talking about ideas and thinking about possibilities, will understand that this kind of research is just the best. It is generous, trusting, nurturing and replenishing. I learn so much when I am working with the team. I really like and respect them and what they do.

Add to that the reality that Summer School is always about an engagement with artists and with some of the collection. And this year the major exhibition is Olafur Eliasson whose work I absolutely love. I am excited about having loads of time to engage with the fog.

So you could say that I am going on a bus driver’s holiday – doing what I usually do but with a twist.  I’m guessing you can probably understand that, after a fairly gruelling academic year, this week will actually be like going to a health spa. I expect to be distracted, challenged, enchanted and emotionally and aesthetically nourished all at once. A full body experience.

Summer School is a little bubble away from my everyday life. I always stay in the same hotel when I’m researching at Tate. Not cheap. Not particularly roomy either. The hotel has those smart little rooms run by ipad. But it has a great bed, shower and wifi and seriously good breakfast. There’s loads of little restaurants nearby for an evening meal and walks along the Thames at dusk and dawn. So creature comforts taken care of.

I have my ethnographer’s bag packed. Mandatory new notebook and pen. Laptop so I can publish posts. Ipad and phone for bits and bobs.  I also have a new camera as I’m hoping to make some high-res ‘sensory’ videos. I’ve relied on ipad and phone before for the visuals but I want to go back to something with a bit more capacity – just to see what I can do.

Expect the first post about Summer School tomorrow morning.




About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in academic writing, ethnography, research blogging, Tate Summer School and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to bus driver’s holiday

  1. linwinn says:

    Hope you have a great time. I look forward to viewing your blog.
    The aspect of sharing and being stimulated by others with a passion for what they do, cannot be underestimated.


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