The last exam for this session at The Institute was sat on Tuesday and I'm sure all the students are glad the ordeal is over. For our final year research project students, there was one final task - to present their project in 10 minutes + 5 for questions. For many, this public speaking task is far more daunting than trying to remember everything they know about blood pressure or nematodes. otoh some people can't do exams - mathematician Klaus Roth almost flunked his finals in 1945 at Cambridge (panic attacks over exams) but went on to win the Field Medal in 1958. Yesterday, I sat through 20 such talks, including the 9 who flourished on my watch. I won't say there wasn't a tiny bit of anxious parent about the ordeal. 5 hours of anything can be an ordeal; it doesn't need palpable anxiety, shaking and blushing. But, in the 20thC bourgeois-speak with which I grew up, they all aquitted themselves well . . . some really well. A tuthree so on top of their material, and confident in their demeanour, and clear in their explanations as to be really professional. It's not every year that I can, with hand on heart, claim that they all done good. But this year I could and I told them so, and continued thus:
Now it's really all over, you deserve prizes:
a. for spelling Escherichia correctly
b. for italicising Latin binomers
c. for having bottle
d. for not being competitive
e. for being ambitious
f. for being independent
g. for knowing when to get help
h. for knowing when to get coffee
i. for having a sense of humour
Chapeaux! as we say in Europeo.
You see that I have offered 9 prizes, so that there is something for everyone in the audience.
Me? I've still got a couple of weeks to go. Those projects have to be given a mark - 10% for The Perf yesterday; the exams results have to be collated and an overall grade assigned; the end of year staff party has to be endured (must make more effort to avoid the boring olde crumblies table). And the Summer, which in April was broad vistas of white diary, is now filling up with events and things to do.