vrijdag 18 maart 2011

On teachers and teaching in higher education

In an interview with Loek Nieuwenhuis on BNR newsradio he ponders how teachers can be remotivated for their profession. Government thinks about financial incentives, Nieuwenhuis thinks about creating teams of people and a closer connection between education and the workplace. Whereas he mainly focusses on the vocational education, I think that remotivation of teachers on an academic level is also an issue to be taken into account.

Teachers on an academic level are either Phd students or people with Phd. But with no special didactical skills, training and at times even without any special inclination or ambition for teaching. The reasoning is probably that it is all about the content, but aren't we by now beyond that, I wonder? Can't we make more of academic teaching and training, get more out of academics and academic students if we pay attention to training academic teachers? And wouldn't that also be a simple first step towards knowledge valorisation? It is one of those items that I always wonder about. Lost of energy concerning education goes to primary, secondary and vocational training. Primary and secondary because they are the basis for all higher education. Vocational education takes in the majority of the people. But does that justify the little bit of energy that goes into professionalizing academic teaching? What constitutes good academic teaching? What is a good teacher? And what is good teaching? What is a good academic learning and teaching environment?

My own inclination would be that the answers to these questions are not only found by academic thinking and by thinking within the box of the academic system. Answers are to be found in practices on all levels of teaching, in cross overs between teaching and learning environments on different levels. In thinking and acting across existing boundaries and systems, so that new ones will evolve. Over the next weeks I will blog some more about this, as the ethics of education have my profound interest!

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