Research Output
Academic Diary Or Why Higher Education Still Matters
  On the outside of this book the spine is now broken. The plastic red covering is beginning to curl away slightly from the edges of cover. This is a book which I have carried with me; jammed into bags and packed into luggage for those moments when a good thought would make a difference. Inside my copy is littered with notes and notes and highlights (I would have to own up to being one of those book violators you hear about). Reviewing my notes and those instances that seemed to connect with my thinking I can trace some of the many links between the expositions of an academic life held within these pages andthe experience of my own. This books feels personal. Structurally the book covers the life of one academic through three terms of an academic year in one institution. There are 21 entries for autumn and spring. Summer is somewhat shorter at only 10. Rather than references at the end there are practical suggestions for relevant follow up materials. Additionally there is a nice contextualisation in the afterward which explains the books genesis. Its a useful package. The year and diary format are central to the book's construction. The academic year operates as an overarching framework or holding place for particular types of reflection about the tasks and processes that go on within a university. Importantly not all entries link to each other (more critical readers might be looking expectantly for some sort of progress in-between). Each entry forms a 'silent conversation' (pg 236) around the academic practice of the author and the reader's experience of this. The entries act almost as field notes from a phenomenological perspective (albeit well polished ones). The focus on 'small experiences' (Pg 96) woven into the larger discourses important in the world of academia ensures this book is lively and relevant. disease and become This is not a book to read in blocks. Sometimes the variation in length of entries alongside their independence meant that ideas piled in on top of each other as I read. Yet individual entries are insufficient for planned reading time. Each entry really is just meant to be read serendipitously within the space of a couple of minutes. Ideas develop. This variation sometimes threw me and I would read too many entries and feel overwhelmed. I should have stopped reading but I didn't. The subject was too compelling. Call me Les I'm going to break academic conventions and call Les by his name for the rest of this book review. This is because having read the book I think Les would approve. Les Back's style is a collegial and open one and I hope I'm joining him in the conversation he explicitly states he is opening. What follows is a personal account of what stood out for me. You may well find other connections and that is strength of this book.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    21 September 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Hanna, B. (2016). Academic Diary Or Why Higher Education Still Matters. Teaching fellows journal, Autumn 2016, 23



Academic identity,

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