Outside the ticked box

January 6, 2011

While I appreciate Tim Birkhead's critique of the "box-ticking culture" in secondary education and share his concerns about the dangers of its encroachment into higher education ("This is customer services", 16 December), I was astonished by his diatribe against lecturer training courses as a "box-ticking, back-watching, bullshit exercise".

I have recently completed the taught element of the postgraduate certificate that our university requires all new lecturers to undertake. Ironically, we spent quite a lot of time this term deconstructing the Browne Review and the neoliberal customer service ethos that Birkhead complains of.

We have studied research on teaching practice, shared examples of good and bad practice, looked at opportunities for innovation, but no one has attempted to specify how any of us ought to teach.

Are the equivalent courses elsewhere completely different from ours, or is Birkhead, like Pink Floyd, conflating education with thought control?

Steve Melia, Senior lecturer, Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England.

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