Friday, October 09, 2009

Intellectual Muscle: University Dialogues

Hardly a day goes by when I do NOT receive a news release from the organisers of the Vancouver Olympics. When I first visited the website, I signed up to receive these email releases, really to give me an impression of what was happening in the wider Olympic scene, rather than being narrowly focussed on the curling. I have been most impressed, as I've learned of the hundreds of ways that VANOC has sought to engage all Canadians in the games. There have been reports on progress on the facilities, sponsorship, ticketing, transport, to the mascots, to the Red Mitten programme, to cultural events and activities for young people. Good communication, indeed.

But I never thought academic lectures would be on the agenda! And they are. See here. Like modern students, you can even download them on a podcast! The press release says, "As Canada prepares to host the world’s best, Vancouver 2010 and The Globe and Mail are partnering on a unique project inviting the public to flex their intellect via podcasts by some of the country’s best minds on topics related to the 2010 Winter Games."

Why mention them here? Just that tomorrow's lecture has a curling connection. What do you mean, you've never heard of Vera Pezer?

Actually, I have never met Vera Pezer, but I am an admirer. As a player she represented Saskatchewan in the Canadian Championship four times in the years 1969-73. She won as Joyce McKee's third player in 1969, then skipped her own team to the Canadian title in 1971, 72 and 73. This was in the days before there was a world women's event (first held in 1979).

I know her for two books which sit proudly in my bookcase. Pezer wrote The Stone Age: A Social History of Curling in the Prairies in 2003 and Smart Curling in 2007. The latter book is subtitled 'How to perfect your game through mental training', and is an excellent reference for those interested in sports psychology, specially as applied to curling.

She is currently chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan.

Tomorrow (Saturday, October 10) Pezer will speak on what inspires us about sport and whether there are better ways to discuss success. The lecture might well be a good thing to download and listen to in the car on one of the long drives home from curling events in the weeks ahead!

Her podcast, and others, can be found on The Globe and Mail website. Upcoming podcasts in the Intellectual Muscle series will be produced by educational institutions across Canada.

Actually, I just like the term 'intellectual muscle'!