Image "borrowed" from Plymouth University

Image “borrowed” from Plymouth University

Many staff  and students who were at RLS in the 1970s will remember John Hilsdon, a cheerful, intelligent, outgoing fellow who was always interested in ideas, possibly more than the lessons that expounded upon them. I bumped into him for the first time in many years during the interval of a good concert of British music by Buckingham Choral Society, today. {Incidentally, the Choral Society includes Old Latin, Stuart Davidson, as one of it finest basses, and Greg Andrews, the husband of Dr Anne (Maths) Andrews in its tenor section.}

John was with his Mum, Helen, a real Choral Society stalwart, who has sung with it for at least forty years. [It’s Mothering Sunday, tomorrow.] These days, John looks a little more ascetic, lightly bearded in a pepper and salt way and he appears as he is: a university academic. This evening he sported that pan-European garment of men of ideas – the black leather jacket. Our lad has done well in a varied and fascinating career.  He tells me ( and June Goldstone) that at last he’s learning the Maths that we tried to teach him forty years ago. I’ll  borrow one paragraph from the Plymouth University’s site and then give you a link at the end so you may explore a little further. There’s even an email address that you could use to hail your friend or classmate from years ago.

I am Associate Professor and Head of Learning Development at Plymouth University, leading both the Learning Development and Disability Assist teams. I am also a National Teaching Fellow. My work has contributed to Learning Development as a distinct field of practice in Higher Education. I helped set up the UK network of learning developers in 2002, and was the first Chair of the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (see I am also co-editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education ( My main interest is in how students can participate actively to make sense of, and good use of their learning experiences at university. As a learning developer, I see this as happening most effectively when students gain confidence in and ownership of the language and practices of academic life in general, and of their subject disciplines in particular. As one of the Learning Area Coordinators for the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, ‘LearnHigher’, I developed learning materials for academic writing (the ‘WrAssE’ project), and on the themes of critical thinking and reflection. I am co-editor of ‘Learning Development in Higher Education’ (Palgrave Macmillan). In the last four years I have been delivered presentations and led research seminars at the University of Lancaster; University of Oxford; Chiba University, Japan; the University of the West of England; Bournemouth University, Brighton University and De Montfort University. I am currently working towards a doctorate in education. As Head of Learning Development, my role involves managing the LD and Disability services and promoting the work of our specialist advisors across the institution.


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