DR IN ACTION Chet enthusiastically lecturing his third year History class during the graveyard shift. Photo: Kesia Abrahams

A day in the life of a lecturer

ZAHLÉ ELOFF

LECTURES can be quite tedious some days. Especially those 08:00. classes after a long night – be it from jolling, studying, or simply binge watching. The lectures late in the afternoon aren’t any more appealing. It’s in those lectures where paying attention, if you manage to show up, is most taxing. Usually, when concentrating extra hard, paying extra attention, and staring maybe a little too much at your lecturer, a sneaky thought might make an untimely appearance. What does s/he do outside of this class?

“I have to take at least two hours to get ready in the mornings. It’s more the coffee and my cigarettes to get me started in the morning, and answering emails,” Dr Chet Fransch, a lecturer in the Department of History, says.

Setting time aside in the mornings to deal with some emails allows for better time management and less distractions during the day. A day which already seems to be jam packed if emails are one of the first things to be scratched off Francsh’s daily to-do list.

“At least by the time I get to work, the emails are done, I’m awake as a human being, and then I get ready for whatever the day is going to present.”

Assuming he has an 08:00 lecture, his day starts as early as 05:30 because traffic can be quite hectic even though he lives in Stellenbosch. He says he hates commuting and would rather pay a little extra to avoid the inconvenience. But getting to class and teaching might not be the hardest part of his job.

“Sometimes I think the perception is that it’s just the classes you have to teach, but unfortunately it’s not. More and more responsibility is shifted on to the teaching staff because we’re in that middle between management and students.

“A lot of the issues you have to deal with require you to act as negotiator, and you have to balance all this out.” Aside from mediating between management and students, and giving class, lecturers are expected to do research and deal with a lot of admin.

Dr Fransch is the Employment Equity Officer of the Arts and Social Sciences faculty, meaning that for every appointments and promotions committee, he must sit among the advisory committee for the vice rector for transformation. In addition to all this, he must also find time to oversee a number of postgrads, read in preparation for lectures, and deal with marking. All this put together would certainly make for a busy day.

“It’s a lot that one has to fit in a day and one has to have a clear head when you’re doing all of that. There is a lot of admin stuff you need to do behind the scenes. Lecturing is actually a small part of your role,” Fransch says.

He is currently busy with a few research projects including the Kayamandi Armed History Research Project. He is spending a week at the end of the year with a research group in the UK in relation to his PhD on the history of rape in the Cape and is taking a Masters student to do their own research on missionary and colonial conquest in Malawi.

Dr Fransch has been invited to give a seminar in Basel, Switzerland. He is also the co-editor for Historia, the internationally accredited journal of the Historical Association of South Africa.

All these responsibilities are time consuming and eat up the hours of the day quickly. It is very easy for people to fall into a pattern of work, work, and more work. Fransch says that he usually leaves campus at around 18:00 or 19:00. “I will always go home and cook because it’s the only way that I actually do switch off, and watching reruns of old comedies like Friends. I could even tell you the words.”

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