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October 2, 2006 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round Eleven

Peter Gainsford and John McDowall this week are the unlucky leaving two. With John McDowall taking out the bronze.

Peter Gainsford, without the on campus profile of many lecturers in the competition, constantly wowed everyone with verbally dextrous answers. Who can forget his German beer garden antics? Crazy.

John McDowall was the risqué dark horse of the competition. He wasn’t afraid to get saucy. He was pure noir, his blondes leggy and his spirits straight.

Both of them helped make this competition great, and I can safely say that everyone here at Salient is sad to see the back of them. They put in ten weeks yak into the reality journalism gruel and we are indebted to them.

But the competition moves on. McLauchlan, the law vet, against Redmond, the rogue British cinematic upstart. It’s a battle that is thematically epic, old versus new, local versus foreign, arts versus law, Kelburn versus Pipitea. It’ll be like Waterworld II, but on dry land, and without Kevin Costner.

The voting lines stay open for two weeks, closing on Thursday the 12th of October at 6pm. Stay tuned next week for in depth profiles of the two finalists. In the words of that weird boxing announcer, “Let’s get it on.”

The question this week brought it all back down to why we are here:

What is the difference between a memorable, great lecturer and a lecturer who is eventually consigned to the backshelf of a student’s memory?

Votes online at, to 021 1694608, and to

David McLauchlan (Law)

Truly great lecturers (as opposed to popular entertainers who are good for a laugh) are first and foremost active in research and scholars in their field, for otherwise their teaching will be superficial. They are passionate about their subjects and enthusiastic in delivering their classes. They really want to be in the classroom. They can inspire students and excite interest in what might appear to be the dullest of subjects. They have thought deeply about their course goals and prepare for class meticulously. They are always thinking about how to improve their performance. They do not simply impart information, which can probably be found in textbooks anyway, but seek to challenge students to think critically about the course material. They do not underestimate the students’ willingness to learn and to be challenged, but at the same time they have realistic workload expectations. They care for their students’ welfare. They set fair assessment and certainly do not seek to trick students in examinations. Most importantly, they have a sense of humour and don’t take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, for unmemorable lecturers, teaching is a chore, and they have few, if any, of the above qualities. Fifty minutes in their classes seems like an eternity.

Sean Redmond (Film)

We’re going to have the best-educated American people in the world.” Dan Quayle.

Lecturing is a passion of mine: I share that passion with my students. I let the films I talk about hurt me, move me, and get inside me. The skin of film and the skin of me collide. I try to bring the life of film alive in the lecture space, its beauty, its terror, its texture. I am a romantic at heart: great teaching is full of romance.

“The only educational aspect of television is that it puts the repair man’s kids through college.” Joan Welsh

Today I am Charlie Chaplin, but I have also been Bowie, Leif Memphis (my celebrity alter-ego) and Master Red. I try to make the lecture space performative, intertextual and interactive. I want it to feel like we are in the movie, taking part, in love with, or angry at its emotional centre. Charlie waddles to the front and a cream pie is slammed in his face. This I stutter, is the pie-in-the-face gag.

I won’t say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: what I’m going to be if I grow up. Lenny Bruce.

Self-important, over-blown and empty on the inside, the didactic lecturer bellows out words, notes, old ideas that no one listens to. In their hands, the lecture space is a strange museum and education in it a zombie-like monstrosity that destroys critical autonomy and creative imagination.

“Right Banks, you bastard! I’m the daddy now, next time, I’ll fucking kill ya!” Scum (1979) Carlin (Ray Winstone)

Yo. cut it.

Soy un perdedor

I’m a loser baby, so why don©ˆt you kill me?

(double barrel buckshot)

Soy un perdedor

I’m a loser baby, so why don©ˆt you kill me?

Running through my arteries and veins right now is a love of life and the possibilities that it offers my students and me. We are all, always a matter of becoming, capable of great transformations. Look I say, feel I say, think freely I say about these ideas, arguments, let them change you and let you change them. Look, look at the beauty of that shot. “In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.” Frantz Fanon


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (61)

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  1. Jaded says:

    I have no reason to read salient anymore.

    I dislike the verbose antics of the film chap and would never vote for a lawyer or law academic just because – maybe Denny Crane but he doesnt count.

  2. Nicola Kean says:

    What about the other 61 pages?

  3. Law student says:

    Why not vote for David?? He is just like Denny Crane :p (maybe without the mad cow? hehee)

    **** DAVID McLAUCHLAN for Academic Idol*************

  4. Asriel says:

    The question is, what do we win if we correctly identify Peter Gainsford from the Dr Who pictures?

    Also, without Academic Idol, I may not have a reason to read Salient anymore, either. Unless you put Matthew Pender in the centrefold again. I’d be happy with that…

  5. Sherbet says:

    I’m now voting, not because one the contestants is deserved of winning but because I don’t want the law guy to win.

    I’m still cut up that John McDowall didn’t make it through…. sniff.

  6. torchy blane says:

    john –

    too soon my love, too soon. oh well, all the more time for more favoured pursuits. my dark horse, let me mount you, let us remove ourselves momentarily, psychologically, from the unforgiving world…



  7. Denny Crane says:

    denny crane

  8. The votes for round ten in the end did not count at all.

    It was incredibly close between John and Sean, and in the end came down to a few votes. John actually registered the most internet votes, but last week internet votes counted for about 40 percent of the action.

    Apologies to the McDowall contingent.

  9. siftyboy says:

    Anyone else think that Torchy Blane supiciously sounds like a man??

  10. torchy blane says:

    anyone think that sifty’s need to reassert his gender through his online handle and attempts to be insightful (i use the word attempts deliberately) is a blatant alert to his deep-seated electra complex?

    sorry to burst the bubble, sifty – while i’m very much a woman, i’m more of a man than you could ever aspire to be.



  11. karen randell says:

    – Mr. Lawman – there is not enough poetry in the world and way too much law – vote for the great Redmondo!

  12. Siftyboy says:

    Dunno Torchy, your willing readiness to use the clearly male orientated (and crumbling edifice) of freudian theory to explain away any frivilous attacks against you, still supiciously makes you sound like a man.

    P.s. I also wish I could be more man than you are Torchy.

  13. there can only be one winner..... says:

    Sean Sheena Supersnotman Charlie Leif Master Red Redmond…..

    COME ON!!

  14. gerda says:

    Voting for Sean, of course. As Shakespeare said: “the law is an ass!”

  15. RichardM says:

    Of course the law is an ass. David teaches us to understand WHY that is so! Therefore vote for him!!

  16. Arts and Humanities Unite.... says:

    or boring, suited law students will take over the world….

    go Sean….

  17. caitlin says:

    hi people out there. Please vote for sean redmond my dad he will win and be the academic idol. i will do anything if you can vote for my dad he will win just vote vote till you die. you can text or go on to salient and clink on sean redmond and bam there is a vote. vote vote for sean redmond. from caitlin

  18. evilbastard says:

    So caitlin, when you say anything??…

  19. Jack Yan says:

    Just voted for Prof McLauchlan—and this is from a bloke who was in his contract law class last century … (Bloody hell, that makes me feel ancient.)

  20. manny coventry says:

    come on covboy sean, from eagle street to academic idol, the sky is your limit!

  21. GG says:

    Vote David!!!

  22. Stammers says:

    The man, The legend, The silver tongued GREAT Redmondo will leave a silky trail regardless, but just incase, vote for Sean!!

  23. Chris says:

    Stammers is right! He is a legend! COME ON!!!! Vote Sean!

  24. Joe says:

    I just voted for David. I got flattered when I was in his contract class in about 2003. “You’re a sharp one, aren’t you?”

    I’m sure I’ll get plenty of chances to vote for him until I reach his age.

  25. Michelle says:

    no questions vote sean, his plea was far more entertaining. Iv sat in many of Seans lectures on subjects i thought i had no interest in and within 10 minutes i was hooked. He is a legend!

  26. joe says:

    Sean fought the Law and…..Sean won.

  27. tipple says:

    Redmond Redmond Redmond !

  28. em says:

    i think sean shud defo win cos wat he dus is jst so much more interesting

  29. material boy says:

    Go Sean, your way cooler than that Denny Crane wannabe

  30. M says:


    You will always ROCK harder than any other lecturer.

  31. RichardM says:

    Well! Well! Sean’s fanatical supporters are up to their dirty tricks again. About 80 votes in the last half hour!! Cheats and spoilsports!!!!!!!

  32. beebop says:

    If Sean wins thats the biggest comeback in history…

    bigger than Shatner, bigger than any retro shit

  33. RichardM says:

    At least beebop owns up to being one of the cheats!!

  34. calm down.... says:

    Hey Richard M,

    no cheating here: just a fair fightback from a large number of sean’s students. We are not exactly fantatical, either. Sean is a brilliant lecturer and his responses have been genius for nearly all the competition.

    And I think you will find that those who multiple voted before the cookies were fixed came from all sides.

    Game on again, that’s all…. may the best lecturer win….

  35. sweden says:

    Sean makes you want to pay twice, almost three times, as much tuiton as domestic students.. ;)
    His passion and charisma is unique..and he never fails to make you smile

  36. beebop says:

    RichardM: boo hoo. get over it. at least we film students fight dirty now, while you law people will fight dirty for the rest of your lives… *

    * disclaimer: this does not include family lawyers etc who do great jobs of trying to be fair..

  37. “About 80 votes in the last half hour!”


    Of course, Salient went to print on Friday morning…
    (And speaking of winners, what were the APSA results?)

  38. Gem Gems says:

    Hey Sean its Gem (3rd year film + tv at Solent)
    Hope your well will email you soon
    Sean to win! Yay!
    Go Seany!

  39. The system makes it impossible to vote twice from the same computer.

    With amount of votes we have coming in from ALL OVER THE WORLD means that anything at this stage is possible.

  40. Brian the dog says:

    Who could vote against against a lecturer who encourages (and supplies) in-lecture beer? It would be un-studently!
    Vote for Sean!

  41. G says:

    It is really easy to vote twice or hundreds of times from one computer

  42. no it aint.

    IP addresses lock.

    It WAS easy, but then we switched away from cookies.

  43. G says:

    Thats good then. I had lost faith in the voting after it was so easy to rig.

  44. evilbastard says:

    Its great that you lock IP addresses, but what if the person has a dial-up connection that gives them dynamic addresses??? Just means that they can diconnect from the internet then connect straight back on with another IP address assigned to them.

  45. there is some way that we got around the dial-up thing. I’m not sure whaqt it is, cause I’m not the techno-geek. mmmkay?

  46. maryanne pedley says:

    Go get em sean.

  47. Sammy-t- says:

    Sean to win! his lectures ruled! were very inspiring and we miss seany!

    Sam x

  48. Jen says:

    Sean is outragious
    OOooooo Sean
    Sean is in fashion
    ooooooo SEAN


  49. “David McLauchlan for Academic Idol”
    I agree… VOTE FOR DAVID!!
    Knowing the esteemed jurist’s brother in practice I can only submit that ALL the lawyering McLauchlans are like Denny Crane (with the mad cow :)

  50. Ren says:

    I miss Sean’s lectures – nothing like a grown man dancing in a bunny suit.

    VOTE SEAN:-)

  51. pt says:

    all the way from london, dave mac all the way

  52. absolutedisco says:

    Down with Law – the bland, bureacratic, benumb, bestial BUGGERS!

  53. Bella Shaw says:

    Surely there is no one other than the Great Redmundo?

    He has astoundingly good taste in shoes!


  54. Herbie says:

    The Barton Peveril posse says – vote Redmond!

    ps. Paul Weller is a Tory

  55. Michelle Antoniou says:

    hey!! hope u win! every1 vote redmond! love michelle xx

  56. Sean Redmond says:

    Dear David,

    Huge congratulations: Academic Idol 2006. A worthy winner.

    Dear Friends, home and away,

    Heart-felt thanks for all your support – it really has been a romantic blast!

    And Caitlin: please, please don’t offer to ‘do anything’ ever again…..



  57. Que says:

    Dear Sean,

    You are an aweosme lecturer. Don’t over analyse Acedemic Idol.


  58. Geff says:

    And the votes were counted and behold it was David who was crowned king. And after this the youthful masses lost their arrogant ways and crept about for now they knew (as they had been told, but did not listen) that the king is under God but that all men are subject to THE LAW.

    Go Law!

  59. David McLauchlan says:

    Dear Sean

    I say congratulations to you! With the votes so close it should have been a draw. Perhaps only the greater numbers of lawyers and law students, as well as my “longevity”, carried the day. The admiration and affection that your students have for you is simply stunning.

    And thanks too to my loyal supporters!

  60. Jocelyn says:

    There aren’t enough open-minded people in the world, willing to really make an effort, throw away all predjudices and really GET DOWN with what their students would understand and love.
    I would have loved to have a teacher like this. Hands down. =)

  61. More please says:

    More Academic Idol, please!

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