22 SES 09 B, University Teaching & Supervision
Describing the condition of the university in the light of Bill Readings’ critique in The University in Ruins (1997), Gary Rolfe (2013) presents two main possibilities for teaching, but sees them as antithetical: the lecture and the seminar (pp.97-108). To resolve this tension Rolfe argues decisively in favour of the seminar: The seminar as a form of ‘reasserting the importance of learning’ (p.107) supports academics in shaping the life of the ‘paraversity’. By ‘paraversity’ Rolfe means a community of scholars working within the corporate university, but ‘subversively’ committed more to goals of liberal learning than to any officially-sanctioned corporate mission. In the era of ‘collapse’ of the university the seminar may become the remedy for tertiary education. Contra Rolfe, I seek to show that lecturing can be understood in a way that provides valuable, thought-provoking learning experiences.
Rolfe’s diagnosis of the contemporary university is quite severe: the ‘corporate University of Excellence’ betrays the idea of education. He views the lecture as an example of such betrayal. Like many critics he holds that lecturing involves passivity for students, the main purpose being to transmit the lecturer’s knowledge. Following Readings’ argument, he believes that academics should not just convey knowledge but ‘create it through a co-operative and collegiate partnership’ (p. 108). He takes for granted that the lecture is a form of monologue and as such it does not help teachers and students to practise their imagination and real thinking. Neither does it reveal the pedagogical meaning of teaching and learning as a integral activity:
‘However, the purpose of the paraversity is not to reinstate learning but to reintegrate it with teaching. I have suggested that the lecture [...] has contributed to a separation of learning and teaching, to the extent that neither is dependent on the other. A great deal of what is now learnt in the modern university does not come from attending lectures and, I would suggest, many lectures do not result in very much (if any) learning. To reintegrate teaching and learning is to find a way to reconfigurate them as reciprocal practices – indeed, as two aspects of the same practice’ (pp.107-108).
Taking as a springboard Rolfe’s critique of university the paper explores possible understandings of educational practice in contemporary HEIs. Special attention is paid to the conditions of teaching and learning, particularly in the case of the university lecture. The argument that the lecture is a misleading form of teaching is critically reviewed in three steps:
1. In what conditions does the lecture have the structure of a monologue?
2. Is it possible for the lecture to become a form of dialogue? – What dispositions would be called for on the part of lecturer and students to give the lecture a conversational structure?
3. What is really educative in a lecture?
References Burbules, N., 1993, Dialogue in Teaching. Theory and Practice, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, London. Collini, S., 2012, What are universities for?, Penguine Books, London. Gadamer, H.-G., 1996, Apologia for the Art of Healing, [w:] tegoż, The Enigma of Health. The Art of Healing in a Scientific Age, tłum. J. Gaiger, N. Walker, Polity Press, Cambridge. Godoń R., 2004, The University and Social Transformation, “Policy Futures in Education”, nr 2, s. 365-373. Heidegger M., 2000, Co zwie się myśleniem?, tłum. J. Mizera, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa – Wrocław. Hogan P., 2010, The New Significance of Learning. Imagination’s heartwork, Routledge, London , New York. Lyotard J.-F., 1997, Kondycja ponowoczesna [The Postmodern Condition], Aletheia, Warsaw. Nussbaum M. C., 2010, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, Princeton University Press, Princeton, Oxford. Oakeshott M., 2001, The Idea of a University, [w:] tegoż, The Voice of Liberal Learning, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis. Readings, B., 1997, The University in Ruins, Harvard University Press, Cambridge and London. Rolfe, G., 2013, The University in Dissent. Scholarship in the corporate university, Routledge, London & New York.
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