It is the start of the new academic year, and already teaching staff around the country are exhausted. With this comes the self referential questioning of why the hell we do this job.
Personally, I am already behind on paperwork. I teach media – why do I need so much paperwork? We have a word document emailed to us that we use to write the names of those who have not attended sessions. I mean, couldn’t we just do an email rather than a word document?
We have a member of staff warning students away form doing arts based courses (Art, Design, Graphics, Media, Photography, etc) because they are recreational courses. I really just want to bump into him…
We have a web based student information system, onto which we can record all their details. We do this in tutorials, instead of actually talking to them.
I entered work you can see in this blog produced for an MA into a staff art exhibition. I was told it was “too large”. Since when was that a consideration in art? “Michaelangelo – you are a great artist. But couldn’t you just – I don’t know, make it more portable?”
It seems to me that my educational establishment has boxes that everything needs to fit into. We can introduce a new technology, but it must fit into this box. Apparently there are people who print all their emails to read. we are still emailes Word documents as word document, rather than PDF – and still called “Word Document 1”. The whole point of the technology is lost by people not really looking at how they can use it. Rather, they put it into the box the old technology used. Print it out, into a folder, done.
How does this effect our students? We know they can use technology, but will only have a surface understanding of it. So they will type on word, but it will still be gibberish, with no returns – making it harder to read. They also see us keeping our old boxes, and filing everything into them for ease – including the students!
We need a humanistic, personalised approach – as John Jones, Marc Prensky etc say – treat them as individuals, not as a group. They can work together, they can redefine models of working and the world – learn form them, don’t try and force them into your box. As above, so below.
However, I do worry about an educational establishment that relishes the old way of doing things. Lectures. Sticking to a rigid timetable. Delivering the same rigid, non thought provoking, limited skills regardless of what the current world, employers, people, students need. In this country, we need creative thinkers,Critical thinkers, lateral thinkers who can then apply these skills in a thoughtful, useful way and develop the skills that they need under their own steam.
We need people who think outside of the box.
If we are teaching from inside our own boxes, can we deliver this?