05 January 2010

On (probably) the last time round...

...and the first time.

I'm teaching a module this term both for the first time, because the arbitrary professional validation requirements have changed---and probably for the last time, because I am supposed to be retired and there is certain to be a clamp-down on the part-time staff budget in the light of the recent swingeing cuts.

When I was contemplating retirement a few years ago, I continually reassured myself that if I could just teach this module one more time, I would really get it right. This may be the "one more time". But the aspiration embodied at least two fallacies;
  • that it was all up (or "down"--it means the same thing) to me as the teacher. It's the myth of teaching as performance. It's a small part of the reality, but only a small part. There is no fixed "performance" standard. But there is a standard of fit with  a particular student group.
  • and even more that it was my self-assessment that mattered. Teaching is about bringing about learning: 
  • A man that looks on glass, On it may stay his eye, Or, if he pleaseth, through it pass, And then the heav'n espy.
    (George Herbert, 1633, The Elixir)
    Teaching is the glass, learning the heav'n.
    More prosaically, keep your eye on the ball--not the bat.
I'll be re-visiting some of the issues raised by this module, no doubt.

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