Why a viva? Why, in this age of digital multiple platforms, speech recognition software, vastly powerful apps that can crunch data to yield patterns for almost endless uses (some of them nefarious, most of them not), do you need to face the apparently quaint, medieval ritual of talking at length for hours AFTER several people have spent days reading your work on screen or in print? Does this have to be the way of it?
Sometimes processes persist because they really are the best for human beings. Medics still examine their patients, at some point, if there is a need, despite the pandemic and Zoom. Publishing still relies on proofreading despite centuries of progress. And theses are still put to the final test using verbal argument. Why?
Because the best way of gauging whether someone really knows something, and has the evidence to show for it, is to ask them face to face to explain. That way, there really is nowhere to hide. Yes, it is subject to risks like any human act: examiners can be bolshie, candidates can be so nervous – no, let’s go for sheer terrified – that they couldn’t tell anyone the time let alone argue a point fairly.
Despite which, this remains the best way. Speaking your view remains the best way of getting it across, and defending it, with people who have taken the trouble to know your work. They won’t know it as well as you do, but they know enough to ask. And, if you’re ready and can still the terror, you know enough to answer to the best of your ability. Which is all anyone can ask, and they do.
We’re in a strange place, where technology means we need not be sharing the same physical space to engage verbally with others and see and hear them in real time. That’s a first. It’s still all about speaking. You can do this, once you get to speak. It’s the best way for you to be at your best.
Have a good day, and stay safe.
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