Subject divergence

August 3, 2017

Whoever proposed the subject-level teaching excellence framework has little or no idea just how complex and varied a “subject” can be (“Subject-level TEF ‘bad for students’”, News, 27 July).

Some years ago, PALATINE, the Higher Education Academy’s subject centre for dance, drama and music, compiled a list of distinct subjects taught within each of those disciplines: music had about 60, drama 50 and dance 25. In dance, for example, alongside choreography is dance anthropology and dance science. Music ranges from performance and composition to acoustic ecology and ethnomusicology. Modes of teaching, assessment, contact hours and so on can differ significantly across subjects in a single discipline in the same institution.

It is inconceivable that a single blunt, flawed and bureaucratically onerous instrument will be able to capture in any meaningful way the quality of teaching across the range of subjects taught within a discipline.

Paul Kleiman
Visiting professor, Middlesex University and Rose Bruford College

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