The last of the (well educated) Mohicans

Posted: 11th September 2010 by Get No Happy in Angry Rants, Politics
Tags: ,

Something caught my eye yesterday that has, as you may have guessed, caused my heart to sink and blood pressure to rise, something not easy to engineer as any medical student could tell you (assuming they didn’t get a place just because they tried there really really super serial hardest when obtaining their 3 D’s at A-Level). It was this article, and particularly this part

On Thursday, during a speech on the future of higher education, Mr Willetts said: “It remains hard to shift the impression that what really counts in higher education is research. This needs to change.”

He told the Universities UK annual conference he had found a report “shocking” that suggested only one in 10 senior promotions in top universities was influenced by teaching.

I really thought that with ousting of New Labour their social engineering reign of terror was a thing of a past; Indeed during the election campaign the Lib Dems openly said they would abolish the target of 50% of all young people in Higher Education. But, as alway the cultural super-tanker is very hard to turn. Especially carrying as it does the mass of intellectual ludditism that so infests modern Britain.


Because what has research ever accomplished? Am I right? *High five* 

Unlike GCSE and A-Level, learning at University was traditionally up to you, lectures and professors are there to inform and guide but in the end they’re (and I should say we’re, as I begin lecturing in a months time) not there to hold your hand and daintily bottle-feed you information as one would an abandoned duckling.

Not that teaching isn’t important in the academic setting; all University graduates have tales and bitter memories of academics who gave boring, unhelpful and uninformative lectures that sapped away ones will to live and passion for the subject like hookworms (ahem), but to suggest that in the higher education setting emphasis should be on teaching as opposed to research is absurd. It’s not the quality of the teaching that gains prestige (and therefore the best international talent and funding) for universities, it’s the quality of the work being done. Moving away from this will simply destroy the esteem in which UK universities are held. It’s continuing the erosion of the traditional university ethos and turning it into little more than day-care for adults.


OK who needs to go potty? 

I can see why new students are complaining about teaching; and as voters at the peak of their electoral reproductive potential, who wouldn’t court them? In the best case scenario this is a sad example of a culture the monetization of the university system has bred: when you have paid $7,000 to attend an institution, you expect value, and however indefinable the value of education may be philosophically, a lot of direct teaching certainly give the immediate impression of getting your money’s worth.

The reverse of course is that by engineering the H.E. system under the guise of equality and egalitarianism successive governments simply exposed the truth that many people simply aren’t bright (or to be all relativist academically inclined) enough to deserve a place there: Kicking open the gate of Rome to the barbarian hordes just demonstrated the latter couldn’t build aqueducts. For some time there has been a trend to move blame away from the individual so no wonder teaching in universities is progressively coming under fire.