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Chris Grady: My respect for teachers grows by the hour

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I have been settled variously in bed, in a comfy chair, and at the kitchen table wading through assignments by MA Arts Management students. I have never done marking before in an academic sense, but I have assessed scripts and CDs for plays and musical theatre - there's a similarity to draw out. And I guess every teacher and academic has periods in their year when they are doing what I am doing. Trying to remain focussed, interested and thoughtful as the pile of scripts seems to remain steadfastly high.

So a word to all those who are writing a play, composing a musical, writing an MA assignment, or even applying for a job with their CV. Think about the "customer" - the person who is turning over your paper, or opening your email application. In good old marketing speak think of the Place and the Product.

I think I have 25 4,000 word assignments to go (oh I wish I hadn’t written than down!). Each time I open a script (or CV) I hope I will be inspired, excited, interested. I hope it will be easy to read and understand what the author/applicant meant to say. I hope I will, quickly, be able to get to the nub of the good things and the negative things I think about when reading. I hope I will be fair in my feedback, and supportive, as each writer/applicant needs to feel cared for.

So to all those who may be still writing assignments, or who are applying for a job by post/email, think about the recipient and the Place. Before sending it in get someone else to read it... you need a critical friend between you and the "examiner". It's so much better to be challenged by someone before you put your life/career on the line, than to find that someone curled up late at night with a pile of paper is the first person to find glaring errors.

I have read some really good assignments in the last few days. I have read some who clearly didn’t have a critical friend. I take my hat off to teachers who do this week in, week out. And I thank Whatsonstage.com for giving me 30 minutes to clear my brain with a blog before picking up the next script.

PS – have you seen the Tim Roth Lie to Me US TV series? You can watch it on LoveFilm and probably everywhere else. It is superbly written and acted. I’m hooked. That’s my luxury when I’ve completed reading and marking 2-3 scripts in a row. I recommend it.

Now, back to work Grady!


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