“On Teaching” by Dr Caroline Magennis

The Times Higher Education twitter account asked academics to tweet about their worst student.

Dr Caroline Magennis had a few wise things to say about this:

“…jokes should never ever be directed at our students. Ever. They should never have their exam or essay errors made fun of in public and, particularly, nothing said in a classroom should ever be tweeted for smug amusement.

….the first reason not to slag off your students in public is basic human decency and the recognition that we all say silly things and make mistakes, without the fear it will be made public. Imagine if someone tweeted that thing you said in academic council last Spring… Exactly.”

Read the full article here.


Universities Must Celebrate Uncertainty To Survive

Interesting rumination at The Conversation on changes in university culture, and how they may negatively impact HE, specifically in the context of being where knowledge is formed, rather than just distributed.

You can read the whole post here.

This section seems important:

But if we value knowledge – and we should – we need to ask ourselves careful questions about how it is formed.

In all the discussion about the “knowledge economy”, it is easy to forget that the condition for knowing is not-knowing. If universities are places dedicated to knowledge, then they are also – by necessity – places devoted to uncertainty.

Any academic worth their salt will admit to this. They will tell you their expertise is the product of a lifelong struggle with incomprehension, and that every thing they claim to know is contingent upon a host of things they don’t. To the extent that universities are places where knowledge is made, then they are places where people learn to ask difficult questions, wrestle with previous approaches and test untried ideas. And they are places where this process is undertaken collectively: in conversation with colleagues, with students, and with past scholars.

Yet the new market-driven world of higher education seems to have little place for uncertainty. Uncertainty costs a lot of money, its usefulness can’t be predicted, and few people see the value of owning it. It’s not very easy to sell and it’s very hard to measure.

Tamson Pietsch
Lecturer in Imperial & Colonial History at Brunel University

Thanks to Daran for sharing this.