Pedagogic formula

August 18, 2011

Alan Ryan is a wise man, but his teaching formula has the wrong pig by the tail ("Too much information", 11 August). Try this: Teaching = Research minus Scholarship. If lectures and small-group classes - taught by lecturers - are linked, even first-year undergraduates can be taken beyond the "frontiers of knowledge" in subjects such as history.

To discover, transcribe and translate a document with wide implications, even outside one's specialist field, does not take long and can be taken straight into undergraduate teaching; but to do all one needs to for publication - laborious checking, etc - is much more time-consuming: that is Scholarship.

Similarly, undergraduates take in new ideas (well explained) faster than older people, who tend to run a mental programme to find a "match" and feel puzzled if they can't. Smart undergrads listen and think critically.

US liberal-arts colleges are great but second best, because their students don't get that sense of research excitement. Ivy League universities are great but second best because professors' ideas are explained in seminars by graduate students with other things on their minds. Oxbridge is great but doesn't link lectures closely enough with small-group teaching by lecturers.

Granted: Ryan is right about the natural sciences. Granted: the teaching-research correlation can be cancelled by character (eg, self-absorption on the teacher's part, or even a very soft voice). As for the rest: for once, we shouldn't listen to Ryan, who has been in the wrong places for the right kind of experience.

D.L. d'Avray, University College London

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Forrest Post Doctoral Research Fellow

University Of Western Australia

Research Fellow in Statistical Epidemiology

London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lshtm)

Phone Advisor

Gsm London
See all jobs

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'