Teacher audit

November 26, 2004

Name - Joe Bennett

* Age: 35

* Job: Course director, FdMus and BA (Hons) commercial music, Bath Spa University College.

* Salary: Senior lecturer (£,390 to £36,428).

* Qualifications: BA (Hons) creative arts

* Background: I began by playing guitar and moved into music journalism, editing the techniques pages of Total Guitar magazine, and took up a full-time further education teaching post in 1998. From there, I started delivering collaborative higher education teaching, and was appointed to Bath Spa four years ago to design and run the new commercial music programmes. Getting the National Teaching Fellowship Award this year was a great opportunity; I'm planning to use the funds to investigate teaching songwriting in higher education.

* Hours spent teaching: About 12 a week. Since the award I've spent more time visiting other higher education institutions and attending conferences, so I need to reduce my contact time.

* Hours on red tape: Up to 20 a week. There are 90 students, a website, ten staff on the team - it takes a fair bit of administration.

* Hours on research: Six hours a week. I write commercial books about the electric guitar, so the boundary between professional and research activity can become blurred. You won't see any of my current books published by Oxford University Press any time soon!

* Teaching bugbear this past year: Recruiting staff. I'm looking for teachers with a commercial background in the music industry. In our subject, a successful album can be as useful a qualification as a PhD. This is as it should be if vocational programmes are to embrace the challenges of working with industry. A colleague summed it up: "I never did a music degree - I had to leave school when I had my first hit record."

* How did you solve it? Through music industry contacts we've built a team of successful practitioners with a passion for teaching. We pair them with more experienced colleagues. Some have enrolled onto postgraduate teaching qualifications.

* Worst teaching moment? A student withdrew from the course and in his exit tutorial he said: "Thanks for everything you've taught me about the music industry. I've decided I want nothing to do with it. It sounds awful."

* Funniest teaching moment? A student's essay explaining the rising age of music consumers: "The average age of CD buyers is now 40; anyone older than this probably can't work the downloading software." The best demographic analysis I've seen.

* My teaching tip? The formal lecture is only one tool in the box; sometimes students learn more through interactive activities.

* Outside interests: I'm trying to launch a parallel career as a songwriter, partly for enjoyment, and partly to feed back into the teaching. Joining the hordes of wannabes has been an education in itself.

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