Laurie Taylor column

October 26, 2001

Prominent academic resigns because of intolerable bureaucratic demands including the need to "justify every lecture on the basis of aims and outcomes rather than having the freedom to occasionally just go into a lecture theatre and talk freely". THES, October 19.

Ah, Dr Pettigrew, please come in. Welcome to the Teaching Quality Assessment committee. I believe you have already been informed of the reason why you have been called before this committee, but let me briefly remind you of the principal indictment.

You are charged with giving a second-year politics lecture at the University of Poppleton on Tuesday October 25 that did not abide by the teaching quality guidelines laid down by this committee.

Not only did you fail to submit the required list of your lecture's aims and outcomes to your head of department in advance, but there are also reports from students who attended this lecture that you departed from the six primary objectives of the course.

I felt it appropriate to say something about the current situation in Afghanistan and the nature of contemporary terrorism.

Dr Pettigrew, I'm sure you're not the only person in this room who is exercised by the events in Afghanistan, but are you seriously asking this committee to believe that a commentary on such matters can be pedagogically accommo-dated within a lecture course whose declared overall aim is a comprehensive introduction to the British Constitution?

It is all politics.

"It is all politics." Really, Dr Pettigrew, can you imagine the chaos that would result if other lecturers followed your lead?

Theologians suddenly departing from their primary aims to discuss Islamic fundamentalism; biologists departing from their declared outcomes to consider the nature of germ warfare; nutritionists ignoring their strategic objectives in order to consider the imminent possibility of mass starvation.

What does that sound like, Dr Pettigrew? What does that sound like?

A university?

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