I worked with a colleague to teach students about the 3 Minute Thesis today – condensing a PhD into an engaging, exciting, simple 3-minute explanation. There were some tough topics – all were interesting when we got into them, certainly – but it got me thinking about whether every topic can be simplified, can be engaging. My initial gut reaction is that yes, anything can. An inner cynic then scrunches its nose up and whines, ‘Really?’
It’s often a case of finding that one story, that one spark that really grabs someone. Perhaps it’s the right example, the right zoom-in to a problem, or a zoom-out. Even finding, despite a complex topic, some humour.
I can see the incredibly interesting topics peeking out from underneath ‘solid’ language and a pattern of how we’re taught to speak academically. There are so many quirky and fascinating stories to be told about research and the passion of the people looking at that work. We’re lucky to spend this time with the students, bringing those stories out and helping them find their confidence to tell them.