Birthday piece

by Paul Maharg on 27/03/2006

A personal piece, since it was my birthday yesterday.  Thanks to Seb Schmoller for his kind words a while back re my short piece on online tutoring in Directions.  Writing it, I wondered how we can use interdisciplinarity to open up the whole experience of being a tutor.  New-ish experiences always give us fresh insights on old habits, settled ways of thinking – it’s one of the relatively unsung delights of using ICT.  Being an online tutor can make you think afresh about the experience of tutoring.

And that’s true of the way different disciplines can interact in one’s life.  I’ve been reading Rose Tremain’s Music and Silence, which I didn’t think I’d like much, preferring Jane Stevenson’s more discursive style of historical novel.  But I was moved by her description of lute-playing and the experience of being a lutenist in seventeenth century England and Denmark.  My own very limited experience of playing taught me how delicate an instrument it was to play, compared to the classical guitar, for instance.  Many years ago I bought a second-hand lute made by a New England luthier – Renaissance design, exquisitely built, light as air with a singing tone.   Sold it to my guitar tutor to help pay the fees of the LLB course I took as a mature student.  Stopping my part-time jobs in adult education to do law was bad enough of a wrench, but selling the lute – that was me giving up on the arts in a big way.  It felt like treachery. 

How wrong I was.  If you take a discipline seriously I don’t think the forms of thinking and resonant texts ever  really leave you.  I didn’t say goodbye to the arts – I couldn’t: it’s too deep in my brain, literally part of my cellular structure – I just encountered it all anew, and found I was using it in ways I’d never thought I would, within law.

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