教育学教不了我们什么

一位匿名学者说,大多数讲师都害怕自视过高的教育专家们无视专业课程地呼吁跟随最新的教学潮流

十一月 26, 2020
Pedagogy’s ever-shifting gospel has nothing to teach working lecturers
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教育学。根据《牛津英语词典》(Oxford English Dictionary),其基本意思是教学:“教学的艺术、职业或实践”。我已经从事这项工作11年多了。那么,为什么我开始害怕这个词呢?

教职员工在谈论教学时,心情很复杂。很明显,教学不是我们进入学术界的主要原因;我们这样做是因为认为这会带来研究的自由。我们快速赶过学期,期待着完成教学指标后的那几个月,希望那时能找到一点时间来追随我们的学术激情。

尽管如此,我们每个人都能发现教学让人享受的某些内容:令我们感到激动的某些主题、以独一无二的方式传达了某些观点,当然,还有那些稀有的时刻,就是学生下课后问我们一个与期末考试无关的问题。此外,我们大多数人,包括我自己,确实投入了大量的时间和精力提高我们的教学质量。这不是我们工作中令人后悔的一面,我们甚至为此感到自豪。

我们也不反对那些以教育本身为研究领域的人。就像任何其他学术领域一样,它可能具有极大的智能吸引力。它也可以很有用,揭示与我们相关的教学问题。

但令我们确实不忿的是,那些把教育作为一个学术领域来研究的人——不管是主要的研究领域,还是主要研究领域的补充——开始把他们的观点强加给所有的学者。

这就是教育学的用武之地。当使用这个高雅的术语时,我知道和我交谈的人在谈论教学时,将不仅仅是站在根据自己的经验提供建议的同事的立场。我知道,我将会遭受某些人那种自是不凡的态度的鄙视,这些人热爱拥护最新的教学潮流,就好像它们是福音真理一样,而他们往往完全无视我自己领域的细节。

我知道这样的专家会告诉我,我的课程网页应该如何构造。我知道他们会告诉我在我的课程中应该如何平衡讲课和课堂活动。我知道他们会引用一些研究来支持他们关于如何教学的观点,而不会对这些研究的弱点和偏见(通常有很多)进行任何真正的辩论。

我知道,最糟糕的是,这样一位专家将把他们的建议提供给全校的教研主任,而这些主任迫切需要任何“改善学生体验”的方法,疯狂地渴望更好的全国学生调查排名和更高的大学排名。

这些主任总是迅速采纳这些建议,就像在教评中迅速采取了其他所谓的“质量控制”措施(最终根本无法保证质量)一样可悲。他们乐于忽视学术领域之间的巨大差异,无视即使在单一学科内实施一刀切的政策所带来的危险,更不会考虑在整个学院或大学实行一刀切政策的危害了。

我是说从那些研究教育学的人那里我学不到任何东西吗?当然不是。事实上,我写下这篇抗议文章,但同时在同事眼里我在教学上也投入了大量的时间和精力。专家们兜售的那些通常有缺陷的建议的方式并不能提升教学,只是为了垄断话语权。

此外,从一开始,学术研究的时间就少得可怜。我们的学生经常没有从我们这里得到其应该得到的时间。我们在假期做研究。我已经记不清有多少次看到过另一篇关于学术倦怠的文章了。

所以,亲爱的大学教育专家们,请记住:你们可能把自己看作是类似于弥赛亚的人,用你们的新宗教的启示性真理来祝福我们这些愚昧的异教徒。你可能会想,如果我们放弃一切,对我们的课程从下到上彻底重新设计,我们的学生会学到更多,也会更满意。但请记住,我们不能就这样放弃研究和管理的责任;我们有合同要履行。

在你游说我们的部门领导使其满怀传道式的狂热来改变我们彻底错误的教学之前,请记住,你可能高估了你对我的领域如何被教以及它如何能够或应该被教的了解。

还要记住这一点:一旦你说出“教育学”这个词,或者任何类似的自命不凡的近义词,你的大多数听众已经得出结论——我们的经验告诉我们在统计上的正确性:我们之间没有共同点。

作者系英国一所大学的学者。

本文由陈露为泰晤士高等教育翻译。

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Print headline: Pedagogy’s ever-shifting gospel has nothing to teach working lecturers

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Reader's comments (22)

I'm going to borrow a response to this that I saw online - Somebody has been asked to cut his 4 hour lecture monologue videos down into digestible chunks, hasn't he?
What exactly are you trying to say??
This is simply not worthy of a response.
What a splended approach to a discourse - so why did you comment anyway? Just to move some electrons?
Nicely composed! Can't help but agree. It applies to other areas of professional interest though - dominating agendas and restricting innovation. I have experience of people with very little knowledge or experience of teaching, imposing views and values - to the benefit of no-one other than providing personal satisfaction!
Interesting, but flawed with the every greater codification and control of education perhaps? Certainly in the 25 years of working in University Academia it's been an issue of contention, not helped by some academics attitude to non-academics 'teaching'. One technician I know does more 'teaching' than ANY of their departments individual academics, but even though they hold a professional teaching qualification because they are not an 'academic' they cannot claim to 'teach', not even or especially in their annual appraisal. As a survey of academics and their qualifications to teach in one of the most 'teaching' active departments proved, 99% of academics were not formally qualified to teach. 'Teaching' academics really should improve their qualifications to do so, if only to protect themselves and their job in the future, or there may be little to persuade higher management they are needed when hired in voice actors can deliver pre-recorded lectures without the cost overheads of office space and USS pensions...
Alas, putting a lot of work in to one's teaching does not correlate with it being effective. I've heard many students use similar arguments when presented with low assignment marks. The sentiment that educational research is all very well, as long as it stays in its academic lane and doesn't offer alternatives for change strikes me as negative and blinkered. How changes in teaching and learning approaches are implemented seems to be the problem here, not the need for, or nature of, the change itself.
I can relate with the fact that between you and me there is no common ground.
Ah, the cult of pedagogy! Every one of these courses I've encountered (in 25 years) has been virtually useless, grinding, patronising and with only one correct answer regardless of what you teach. If you don't conform, you don't pass. When I finished my qualification, after a year of being told be responsive to feedback, and the feedback for the this course was almost universally negative, one of the leaders said: 'Yes, that's what participants said last year'. He might have been working on an article on pedagogy and cognitive dissonance for a journal not read by anyone who, you know, teaches actual students. We had our first year curriculum ruined for four years because management listened to some Utopian nonsense which ignored any evidence, of which there was plenty, which didn't conform to the half-arsed, ill-thought dogma generated by someone deemed incapable of being put in front of UGs
Tiptoes in: I am one of those who study/research education... but my standpoint in advising colleagues (which I have been asked to do a lot lately, for my sins my specialty is online education!) is always to ensure that each lecturer's own 'voice' is heard. Students want to sit at the feet of these often world-class minds and hear what they have to say unfiltered by anything that I might suggest to them about how they deliver it. And I am found in front of a class of students myself often enough that I only suggest things I've tried out and which pass the "don't need to turn on the sprinklers to keep the students awake" test :)
The sad assumption (reality) of this article is, "It is clear to us that teaching is not the main reason we entered academia; we did that because of the research freedom we thought it would give us." The primary privilege of university faculty is teaching, research is icing on the cake. Teaching is the reason I entered academia.
I agree! I love my research, but the reason I entered academia was to teach, and I love it. I find it very problematic that it is almost expected that we will somehow think of a major part computer roles as a sort of “nuisance” that needs to be endured. It’s amazing! Except for marking, I’m not too fond of that (even if it is a great teaching tool in its own right)
“It is clear to us that teaching is not the main reason we entered academia; we did that because of the research freedom we thought it would give us.” Unfortunately this article is the sad evidence that far too many academics teaching are doing it because they have to, not because they want to... one fortunately does not need a degree in academic practice to understand the real meaning of the fact that the writer needs to state multiple times: my teaching is good!
Have to agree with the author - pious, preaching, pedagogists don't seem to worry about evidence based practice. Mostly old wine in new bottles and when you look closely the emperor is found to have no clothes. Once I'd worked out what blended learning, flipped classrooms and, yes, technology enhanced learning was I realised I'd been doing it (very successfully) for 20 years. And when I look at the evidence for what I adopted, mostly because it was more efficient, I am glad to read in various meta analyses that at least Ive done, on average, no damage with my "modern" approach. Certainly the students seem to say nice things, sometimes decades later. Others may disagree but in my experience students want to to be taught by experts on their discipline and to learn what they can't find in a book. Staff, smart world beating academics, just want to be left alone to get on with the job to the best of there abilities given all the time constraints and other pressures. Discretionary control is a key moderator of stress in a ever increasingly pressurised world. Trust in academic staff delivering quality research and educational experiences don't have to be at odds with each other. Monitoring of outcomes and delivering feedback to academics is however key as people need to be held to account. If one correlates student satisfaction with their academic experience and research quality, even having controlled for student academic ability, the relationship is very high (r~0.6-0.7). The modern zealous pedagogists seem way more concerned with process than outcome. Indeed, I have often heard some of them say teachers can't be held responsible for outcomes if the teaching process is right. What twaddle! This is just a license to be unassailable and unaccountable. Johnathon Haidt's book on the Coddling of the American mind is a worth a read. In it he speaks of the three great untruths, one of which is "...if I feel it, it must be true". Where is the consistent evidence - and I mean real evidence from well designed quantitative studies - that "modern pedagogies" are worth the energy, effort and cost from a learning outcomes perspective?
The comments here are polarised, as are similar conversations where I work. It feels like the transition to online has resulted in a widening gap in the tussle between teaching and research, and an entrenching of positions on both sides, the evidence-based pedagogy driven teachers and those continuing with more traditional modes of education. There is also the divide between those that see the students as the beating heart of HE vs those who see research as the divine purpose. With the world the way it is, higher education should be a time we help our students navigates differences in opinion so they can deal with the complex global issues facing them. This is a critical conversation, we shouldn't treat this as battle, or we are not being the role models that are needed. I am a practitioner interested in pedagogy. This article could have been written by 80% of my faculty. I welcome the author's contribution because all voices need to feel able to be heard, I do have sympathy for their position and the impossible pressures. The fact this is anonymous speaks volumes, but it concerns me. It suggests our colleagues on the other side of the pedagogy fence don't feel safe to express their views because it's against the prevailing orthodoxy of student-centric HE, and the likely social-media attack . That isn't the way to move towards respectful conversations where we can balance and respect different conceptions of teaching and research. We're both needed and we have to find constructive ways of building a dialogue.
"Pedagogy has nothing to teach us". Hmm, unconscious incompetency?
It might be helpful if hiring/promotion would not primarily be based on impact points (and networking) but more on pedagogic talent. (And yes, I mean talent - you can also learn to play piano, but without talent, it's just a pain for both - receiving and transferring partner).
Comments here fall into two camps - the enemies of pedagogic 'technique training' and people who see teaching as an essential part of academic work. Both miss the point. What I suspect the author is getting at is that a 'one size fits all' view of what works in teaching *any* subject is a mistake. We need good, innovative, evidence-based pedagogical practice in lecture halls and tutorial rooms across the land - but you teach physics in a different way to classics. Any insights that are common to both are likely to be pedestrian at best and inapplicable at worst.
Too many academics at various universities continue to wrongly comment on teaching as though it is a purely academic exercise. To really understand what the practice of teaching is about such lecturers should chat with elementary and secondary school teachers who received some level of teacher trainng. The requirements for teaching are driven by the tried and tested fact that there are individual differences in learning styles and the rates of learning among children, teenagers and adults in both formal and informal settings. As such teachers would write out lesson plans
Yes, interesting the strength of the division here. I err on the side of the article and I know that even questioning the validity of some p********l research raises hackles. I wrote something similar a few days ago https://marine-biology.net/he-teaching-hints-and-tips/ I mostly think that doing your PCAP should not necessarily involve embracing the literature and jargon of p*******l reseach. It should be front-and-centre focussed on giving new academics skills to teach. Research into teaching, as the authors says, is of course a valuable research field and can shed light on the learning process (e.g. students rarely listen for more than 15 min, use pictures as anchors, people learn in different ways) but it should be left to the specialists. I separate out from pedagological researchers those valuable folk who help us to use IT and who have been utterly invaluable in our transition to online teaching.
First, why should I believe the author is an academic in a UK university. To be honest, it looks unlikely to me as it is so poorly written. So as someone who has spent 42 year working in, on and around pedagogy as my discipline, I will pass on making any substantive comments
Sad that students must put up with a 'teacher' who is not trying to make all of their teaching worthwhile, enjoyable and not all about them as a researcher. I would also add that 80% of what they need to improve their teaching is simple mechanics, not androgogy related. I have helped many teachers teach. Without skills in writing learning outcomes, aligning assessment etc., courses can be very muddled. These are basic skills a lot of teachers lack. Anyway COVID-19 has squeezed me out of the system and now I can help no one... I hope those that remain in Educational Design and Development can help you dear author.