Spot the difference 1

January 10, 2003

Why do academics, when discussing the nexus between research and teaching, seem unable to distinguish between different academic subjects and their emphasis on understanding or factual knowledge, skills or values (Features, THES , January 3)?

In conceptually rich subjects in the sciences and mathematics, undergraduate teaching is still grappling with helping students understand key theories to progress. This is difficult enough without linking it to the latest research developments. In other fields, teaching is more concerned with helping students keep up to date with ideas and viewpoints.

One German university brilliantly distinguishes between a faculty of sciences and a faculty of opinions. Broadly speaking, the teaching-research nexus in undergraduate study falls in the opinions faculty and in postgraduate study in the sciences faculty.

John Sparkes
Hemel Hempstead

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