What does “higher education” mean? What do you think of when you hear the term “academia”? When someone mentions a higher education college or university what do you think of?
What answers did you come up with – learning, teaching, students, ………….. or research?
Apparently, by focusing on the teaching aspect, I’m not up there in the valued and appreciated realms. The Times tells me that ‘driving excellence’ is in research and not in teaching. Generation of new knowledge carries more status than the joy of passing on this knowledge to others. Who decides this, who’s calling the shots? The UK HEA seems to suggest that senior managers in a third level institution care a lot about teaching but their academics don’t seem to believe them, citing promotions as being very much driven by research achievements.
Who is doing the learning – the academics in their research. Who’s doing the teaching – the academics when they can squeeze it in. Where do students fit in? Knowledge and pushing the frontiers of uncovering and discovering knowledge need to be constant and research is the way to do this. On the other hand, where do researchers begin their learning – by being students in a class of fellow students. If they didn’t have this opportunity would they have become successful researchers?If their lecturers didn’t pass on their learning and research achievements to them, would they have thrived as researchers?
Its time to pass learning back to the learners. Teaching must be valued and considered on par with research activities. Otherwise, we risk losing out on budding researchers of the future, and why would we want that?