Reflections on the eve of a new academic year

There is still a hard day’s work ahead before the introduction to the PCTHE for 2010-11. For some reason the VLE and wiki are not developing themselves. Packs for the day do not seem to be reproducing like the little bunnies I wish they were. The to-do list of best intentions is shrinking to only those that absolutely have to be done to ensure neither humiliation nor the sack hits me.

But that is not the whole picture. We have a remarkably good team and a robust programme. This is the fifth time we have run this version of the course. The design is dialogic and largely peer tutored. We all have to dig into ourselves to find both our well established coping strategies and something new for this year.

And, we have. It might be a bit close to the QA wind – nearly a minor change – but we have introduced two important variations to the programme: a base group position paper on how our assessment practice is an example of good teaching, and base group seminars. We are quite keen to see the seminars at work. We have conceived of these as a means by which our learners can influence the curriculum. This is really an anticipatory manoeuvre in advance of launching the revised course in 2011-12.

Implicit in all that we do is that there is something of value in higher education; it is not just higher skills training. Even if precarity increases and unrepentant financially-driven managerialism presses on all sides there remains something worth doing in the academy. We may end up gipsy scholars chewing off our own legs for the chance to bite the hand that feeds us, but there are principles – or “course values” to be upheld: an instrumental focus on the learning of others, experiential rather than didactic learning, reflective practice, critical thinking (and theory), delight in diversity, and learning communities.

So, here we go again.

Posted via email from George’s posterous

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