Monday, 7 May 2012

University Teaching

A Facebook friend posted this some weeks ago. There is more than an element of truth in it - although my spouse is, of course, much more enlightened about the realities of modern university life.
I must say that, although I have entitled this entry 'University Teaching', I do not like the phrase. However, rather than change it, I will use this opportunity to write about something that is of perpetual concern to me.
I believe that one goes to university to learn, NOT to be taught. A lot of people have forgotten this - both staff and students. I cannot believe how nowadays, when students go to lectures, they also want the lecturer to supply notes by way of a synopsis of that same lecture! They sat there for an hour doing ... what? (Some, in fact, do just sit there ... for an hour.)
I recently asked some students about something I had seen in some lecture notes provided by a colleague. I was genuinely puzzled by what he had put because I had never heard of it before. Furthermore, I was genuinely interested in finding out more. The one student that knew what I was asking about - because she was, in fact, the only one to have actually looked at those notes - had only learned them off rote. When I asked her to tell me more (because I assumed that she had studied the topic), she could not. She had not, in fact, studied the topic, she had just memorised the notes accompanying a certain lecture.
As yet, I have found no reference to the thing that was puzzling me, anywhere. If it is real, then it should not be hard to find. Yet, I just cannot find anything about it anywhere. This leaves me wondering. However, I will keep searching. If I do solve this dilemma, perhaps I ought to devote a future entry to it by way of an apology for what I am about to say: at this moment in time, I have a sneaking feeling that an error may have crept into my colleague's notes unbeknown to him! (If so, then, so much for the value of lecture notes.)