Thanks to the Radio 4 PM blog for passing it on!
27 October 2008
Even so, I can applaud this sentiment;
Another [reason for replacing degree classification with a record of achievement] is the idea that the final degree class doesn’t reflect the strengths and weaknesses shown by a student throughout the course. Thank heavens it doesn’t, I think. I am privileged to teach some of the very brightest students in the UK. I want them to develop their potential in all kinds of ways – so that, in whatever walk of life, they can go on to be stunning citizens (cliché but true). That often means taking apart their preconceptions. It means watching them take intellectual risks, make intellectual mistakes, even do badly before they do really well. The last think I want is every course they have done listed and graded. [...] Some of my best student in Cambridge have got deltas on the way to alphas, and have learnt in the process about how not to be yes-women, when and how to take risks. Isn’t that what UK employers need?
26 October 2008
Lewis Elton has written a thoughtful piece tying in the scholarship of learning and teaching with Wilhelm von Humboldt's conception of a university from the early 19th century (predating Newman, who has been more influential in the UK, by half a century or more). It's good to see it on open access on the web. It's also good to see further counterblasts to the materialistic utilitarianism which besets so much current debate about universities.
25 October 2008
It's an exercise re-discovered time and again, like the wheel; get students to mark/grade and comment on specimen papers written for your module, so they know what they are supposed to look like.
I don't have the academic credentials of composition experts, but I doubt many experts spent most of a decade writing between one and five term papers a day on virtually every subject. I know something they don't know; I know why students don't understand thesis statements, argumentative writing, or proper citations.
It's because students have never read term papers.
24 October 2008
promote the development of teaching and enhancement of the learning environment by providing practical, collegial, academic and pastoral support for staff to engage with the Scholarship of Teaching and LearningIt's full of useful material, all with a clear awareness of its target audience; academics who want to improve their teaching practice in a disciplined way. I'm sure it will prosper--do pass on the word!
23 October 2008
21 October 2008
In short, Jill Bolte is a neuroanatomist who suffered a stroke, and emerged in the unique position of being able to testify both from within and without, as it were, about the contributions of each hemisphere of the brain to our coherent experience of the world and ourselves. Remarkable.
20 October 2008
"Political correctness" (in itself a contestable label) in its most benign form, sets out not to offend anyone. OK, but that gives hostages to fortune in ceding great power to anyone who decides to be hypersensitive about, for example, being bald (sorry! "Follically challenged" I don't think that phrase was ever more than a joke anyway, and I can call it because I am myself bald...). Or being of a particular ethnic origin, or having a specific learning disability, or espousing a particular faith...
The fact that one falls into one or more of those categories (and several more) does not automatically make one a morally superior person, exempt from venal desires to take personal (or group) advantage from any strategic error by a competitor. (I'm looking at this systemically.)
If major players in a system elevate "not giving offence" to their primary moral principle, then they cede authority to whoever can be most easily offended. And given that "not offending" is th ultimate pusillanimity (wow! Did I spell that right?) they probably deserve the consequences.
16 October 2008
In the same edition of Times Higher Education Terence Kealey of the University of Buckingham is highly critical of the assumptions on which the Quality Assurance Agency purports to review institutions; it institutionalises mistrust of professionals. Actually, I think he protests a little too much; he must have known how they operate, and since Buckingham is the UK's only private university, he was not obliged to invite them in at all. So why did he? Even so, there is a fit between the two articles; and of course the interesting thing is that as a private university, one might expect Buckingham to be more consumer focused than public institutions. Since it scores top for student satisfaction, it may have an appropriate consumer orientation, rather than a "toxic" one, to use the new cliche.
12 October 2008
07 October 2008
02 October 2008
I do however rather wonder how much of this is re-inventing the wheel. On the other hand, you do appreciate more the wheel you have invented for yourself rather than the one someone else supplied off the shelf before you knew you wanted one... It might not be such a bad strategy after all.