A step back into the past for me and a huge step forward for one of my former undergraduate and postgraduate students this week. I was invited to the inaugural lecture of Professor Keith Smyth at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness and was more than happy to accept. I first met Keith as a raw 18 year old who joined the first year of the BA(Hons) Information Management at what is now Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. I was the head of department and also taught on the course. Like myself, Keith was a late developer and someone who did much better at university than at school. At the end of his fourth year, Keith was top of his class with a first class honours degree. My then colleague Kathy Buckner (also at the lecture) persuaded Keith to do a PhD, with Kathy as principal supervisor and me as second supervisor, and he gained his doctorate 4 years later , having also done teaching for the department in the final year. He then went on to Edinburgh Napier University as lecturer and then senior lecturer, before getting the professorial post last year. So, my boy done good. Keith was kind enough to identify a PhD meeting with Kathy and me as a pivotal moment – we told him in no uncertain terms that he must stop revising chapters (a common fault amongst PhD students) and get it finished ASAP – and he did. He is professor of pedagogy, which is often defined as referring only to teaching, but which Keith argued was about learning and teaching, and he will lead the university strategy on developing a range of teaching methods, including face to face, online, open and blended learning. HIs lecture was thought provoking and entertaining and raised many questions about who has access to learning and what spaces – physical and digital – are made available to everyone who is willing to learn, in a formal or informal manner. Keith has given me permission to use the photo below.
The lecture gave me an opportunity to go to the highland city of Inverness (good photos) which I haven’t visited for years. It’s an interesting train journey from Edinburgh, going through Perth, Dunkeld and Aviemore (more good photos). In Inverness, I stayed at the excellent Sandwood B&B – 4* hotel quality at B&B prices. Inverness is a city as it has a cathedral but it really a fair sized town. It is dissected by the fast flowing River Ness and there’s a very pleasant walk along the river on both sides.
On the bank of the river is the cathedral a huge stone structure encasing an interior of vaulted ceilings and delicate wood carving. On the day of my visit, there was a strongish wind which was blowing the blossom of the trees next to the cathedral and forming a confetti like carpet. The photos show the entrance to the cathedral, the confetti carpet and a view of the cathedral from Inverness Castle, and a view of the castle from the river
My stay was brief, but Inverness is certainly worth a visit and there are many places of interest, both historic and scenic, to the north, west and south of the city. Put it on your list.
Tags: cherry blossom, inaugural lecture, Inverness, Inverness Castle, Inverness Cathedral, learning and teaching, pedagogy, PhD, Professor Keith Smyth, Queen Margaret University, River Ness, Sandwood B&B, third space