Miracles? Not here

February 20, 1998

HUGH Willmott mounts a rather unpleasant attack on staff developers as teaching and learning experts (THES letters, February 13). What must we have done to him to provoke such an outpouring of bile and prejudice, masquerading as reasoned argument? Did we suggest that he experiment with some mind-altering teaching method and it all went terribly wrong?

He accuses us of being "busy peddling a remedy for an escalating crisis in higher education" (ie "a teaching and learning solution that, miraculously, promises to restore or enhance standards at minimal cost by substituting new methods for (more) staff").

This may well be on the agenda of the corporate managerialists in our universities but I know of no staff developer who promotes new teaching methods as miracle cures. At the very least we offer staff a variety of ways of facilitating a more active approach to teaching and learning in higher education and at our best we work with our colleagues to help them become more critical and reflective about the education process itself.

If, as Hugh Willmott thinks, this is "dispensing the new opium of the universities" then there is much to be said for it.

Graham Badley. Professor of educational development. Anglia Polytechnic University

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