28th June 2021

For years I taught Maths for the Open University. On a staff training day we had a session called ‘First tutorials and breaking the ice’. The bouncy speaker told us to ask the group of students, new to university study, to think of three interesting things about themselves and then tell the group. I do not think I am alone in hating this icebreaker. As soon as I am asked for interesting things about myself, my mind goes blank. What is interesting and why would anyone else think so?

I found it better for a first tutorial to ask people why they were doing this course. Answers were all different and often interesting to others. For example, the retired head of a school was doing the Maths degree he had always wanted to do, his father having decreed “You do Classics and no argument.” A music teacher afraid for her job with cuts in school music was upgrading her Maths so she could teach some Maths and keep her job.

Everyone has an interesting story. No-one is JUST a bus driver, just a housewife…

But it takes time for us to get to know each other and get beyond formal polite chat. When we reopen the church fully (Coffee!! Singing!!) we will have to get to know each other again (or for the first time). Zoom has helped but is not the same as a real chat between two people. We need to get beyond a quick “How are you?” and “Hasn’t the weather been good/bad?”

We have to re-build our community. How would each of us answer the question “Why do you come to Tyndale?”

Margaret Clements