Newnham Classics goes to Paris
I think that my very first blog on this site wondered about how best to help students when they were coming up to final exams. They are already clever, they already know a load of stuff, and they are worried. Most "revision sessions" simply serve to bolster morale (OK folks -- morale boosting didn't work today; quite the reverse, sorry).
So I have started to plot 'away-days' for our finalists in the run-up to exams -- a day out to somewhere intellectually bristling, slightly exotic and physically tiring. Last Saturday we boarded the Eurostar and went off to Paris, to spend a long, hard day in the Louvre and have lunch in the slightly chilly open, but very Parisian air (that's me with the students at lunch above).
The Louvre has something for any classicist, and we had a hard museum day -- there was a stupendous exhibition of Russian art, but the favourite was the Louvre hermaphrodite (a Roman version of a Hellenistic original, with a mattress courtesy of Bernini). It's a classic case of Hellenistic wit and play; it looks like a sleeping woman on one side, but get to the other and you discover that "she" has a willy . . .
And after the hermaphrodite we gave a once over to the Crouching Aphrodite -- about which one of our number had written in her dissertation.
In case anyone thinks that taxpayers' money was spent on this jaunt, let me assure you that none was. The bulk was paid by a welcome, but sad, gift -- from the parents of a great student who died in a freak accident in college almost 20 years ago now, just before she took her finals. A generous donation in Jane's memory lets us do this kind of thing... and welcome and worthwhile it is too.
One of the best learning experiences there is.