– What do you think of Potter’s course?
– Not much.
– Why, what’s wrong with it?
– Oh, I don’t know, it’s just that he… Well because he overloads it with detail. He does tend to do this kind of thing I think. That course he gave on town planning last year. It was just the same — just a load of details, which you could have got from a book anyway, and more and more technical terms. There was no … no overall er…
– No general overview you mean.
– Yes. I suppose you could call it that. I couldn’t see the town for the buildings.
– But you’ve got to have detail in this kind of subject Jane, and anyway I think he’s good. You take his first lecture for instance — I thought that was very interesting, and not at all over-detailed.
– But that’s just it, Helen. That’s just what I’m getting at. He starts off all right and engages your interest so that you sit back and think «I’m going to enjoy this. I’m going to get a general idea of the important points in this topic». When bang! Before you know it you’re up to your neck in minute details and he’s bombarding you with technical terminology and …
– Oh rubbish! Now you’re exaggerating.
– Now, now, you two. Let’s keep this on an impartial academic level. At least you both seem to agree that he starts off on the right foot with his nice interesting introductions. Wouldn’t you say that was important for any lecturer, Jane ? — To get the audience involved right at the beginning and then gradually increase the pressure.
– Oh yes, that’s all right. I would expect that. I think anyone would agree about that. But the trouble with you two is…
– Here we go again, Helen. She’s going to put us all in our places again.
– Oh shut up, Brian. What I’m trying to say is you don’t see my line of argument. I don’t object to an interesting start to a lecture course followed by a speeding up and more difficult material. What I’m on about is that Potter doesn’t really raise the level at all, after his introduction — he just piles on the detail. You know when he got to the modern bit I was so submerged in curtain walls, modules, mullions, cantilevered spans and reinforced concrete roof trusses I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.
– Well, all right, perhaps he was just a bit disorganized towards the end. But I thought before that he was perfectly easy to follow, and although he didn’t keep pushing his lecture plan under your nose it was there all the same. What about the part where he dealt with the eighteenth century developments? I thought that was very interesting — the way he dealt with the western developments. And especially the way Bloomsbury developed from the Bedford Estates. You know, it began to make sense to me for the first time — because he made me see why there’s such a feeling of order in that part of London as compared with some of the others. And he brought all the threads together so well, and related the architecture to the ideas on town planning and er… the leasehold system and so on. I thought it was really good. Sort of er enlightening.
– Yes, I liked that part the best.
– It wasn’t bad, I suppose. Yes, on second thoughts I’m inclined to agree with you about that part. But not as regards the rest. I shall stick to what I said. It was too detailed and too formless.
– She has got something there, Helen, you know. Perhaps Potter finds it difficult to lecture to undergraduates. After all, he does do most of his teaching to the postgraduates. He only does the one undergraduate course each year, and I think he tends to forget where he is. He starts off being nice and general and then tries to cram in a bit too much specialized information.
– The main thing I object to is this — this lack of direction. I like to feel… Well, it’s a help to know you’re getting somewhere.
– Talking of getting somewhere, what about going for a coffee?
– Yes please. Where, the Union?
– Oh no, let’s not go to the Union. It’ll be so crowded at this time. What about the White Sheep? You know it, do you?
– Yes, that place in Ferry Street you mean? Just past Barkers.
– Yes, that’s it. The coffee’s pretty good there, and it’s never too full in the mornings. That all right with you, Helen?
– Yes, that’s fine. But do you mind if I call in the library first? I’ve had this book out for ages, and they’ve been chasing me for it, so if I don’t get a move on and take it back I shall really be in the soup. If you like, I’ll go the back way and you two can go across the quad. If I don’t catch you before you get to the White Sheep I’ll see you in there.
– O. K., fine.
– Bye Helen.