A call for real class

January 17, 2003

Higher education needs more working-class academics, not just students, if it is to ensure real equality and progress ("Will rich ideas tackle a very poor show?", THES , January 10). These academics would be people who have done traditional working-class jobs for some time before retraining.

The gulf between middle-class academics and working-class students has led to such students being treated almost as special needs cases and in danger of failing.

Working-class students are often more self-confident, combative, radical, cynical and outspoken than others. They are prepared to work hard to become autonomous, self-confident professionals. They do not need a cloyingly supportive environment that patronises or mollycoddles them and undermines their self-esteem. To relate to these students, we need working-class academics, not social workers and missionaries.

Michael Derham
Lecturer in Spanish
University of Northumbria at Newcastle

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