Sunday, January 30, 2011

Are we Scholars or Teachers?

I have just finished reading this interesting piece
written by Robert Martn and Andrew Gillen in "Inside higher Ed"
They raise the point that there is no efficient market for excellent teachers, rather there is an efficient market for scholars of higher education. Thus rather than training people to teach effectively, we train them to be effective scholars in the field of education.
This is not unique to education, and comes from the inbuilt reflexive bias in higher ed, whereby course givers are by and large working for academic institutions.
The article also identifies another source of this bias which is that in the hiring process employers have the external publishing record of the lecturer/researcher to go on, and that the reference mechanism is in many markets broke. (An excellent reference may indicate an employer’s unwillingness to be sued, or their enthusiasm for getting rid of the individual in question, rather than a deep-seated conviction that this is an individual of truly above average ability!)
When I think of the coursework in the course I am now pursuing, I find that much of it is aimed fairly and squarely at scholarly research, which is very valid considering that that is going to be a significant hiring criteria. It does however beg the question has this emphasis on scholarship led to less time being spent on delivering material pertinent to the development and delivery of content to students, which may be what teaching is about.

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