Don't belittle teaching duties

August 9, 1996

Laurie Taylor (THES, July 26) quotes Graham Zellick, vice chancellor, University of London: "The highest quality in research is intrinsically more important than the highest quality in teaching." This thought, true or false, may explain student dissatisfaction with some teaching they receive from researchers.

It seems that those who agree with Professor Zellick are not humble enough to realise that teaching students may be intrinsically equally or more important than their research. A few of their students, given intrinsically important teaching by those (like it or not) who are responsible for teaching, might subsequently perform intrinsically more important research than the teacher. University appointees should declare themselves to be dedicated to research and teaching, or to teaching, or to research so that those who arrange teaching can attempt to ensure that students are taught only by those in the first two categories. Students deserve nothing less.

Philip D. Welsby Consultant physician Honorary senior lecturer Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Associated Hospitals Trust

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