Distant solution

September 12, 1997

Funding seems to rule in most educational institutions. An establishment does what it can afford and adapts to the changing world, not by attempting to apply the findings from recent research into the way people learn and to what people believe is "valuable" in education but to stay afloat financially in a go-getting, monetarily-driven society by offering more, shorter and cheaper courses in an attempt to attract more students to keep the balance sheet in the black.

Surely it is time to return to the basic principle of what is "good" in education, not what is "cheap"? The best in education is without price. The value of the moment of insight when a student acquires enlightenment is immeasurable. More often than not, such a moment is created by the skill of a good teacher. Surely it is now time to pour our support not into "evaluating", "appraising", or "eliminating" so-called "incompetent" teachers but into training and supporting the teachers who would all be competent with the right training. Is this not worth some kind of investment?

It is time to break free from the enclosed competitive institution where a poverty-stricken student endeavours to lose three to four years of his/her life ostensibly "studying" but in reality working in unfavourable jobs and building up depressing debts. Now is the time to give support to educators setting up virtual universities or who are educating by distance learning in which a student gains the same expertise, training and one-to-one tuition in as much, if not more, depth as the traditional establishments offer. It is an honour to be able to say one has gained a degree from an institution with a good reputation, but are "honour" and "a good reputation" the sole guardians of the future which we should support?

Mrs. R. J. Westwell

Director of courses

Ely for English Cambs

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