Academic with a mission to teach

October 6, 1995

Current concerns about higher education refer too little to defects in its basic function. While research (as well as being right in itself) can bring quick cash, self-gratification and league table points, academics are also there to teach.

Jo(e) Expert usually lectures on the unconsidered model of an adult "finding out" from an information source which provides information with minimum engagement. Skills of course design and presentation, motivation and assessment, are often actively despised, most perhaps by the pedestrian and lazy (for obvious reasons).

Being an odd sort of academic, I recently found myself withdrawing from and declining external examining jobs in Britain because of relatively modest qualms while personally enduring another course most kindly described as shamefully bad.

Perhaps standards are dropping - or being over-valued - but there is an enduring deficit in the missed opportunities for face to face inspiration. Some genius doubtless flowers unnurtured, but it is amazing what a bit of brilliant teaching can do for the rest!

E. A. Salter Lulea University Sweden

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