How good is your teacher?
Teachers are finding it harder to inspire, encourage and engage with their students, especially as the years pass and they collect more rings in the middle. Although teachers who are older and have been in the profession longer have the advantage of more experience and student interaction, is their teaching methods at a disadvantaged because they can be outdated and find themselves at a different cultural time than their students?
Classroom misunderstanding will increase as the age gap increases between lecturer and student. When teachers start out, they are at similar age of the average student they teach, and will share the same cultural capital, music and all the things in between. However, as the years increase the two sides start to skewer off in different directions.
But what makes a good teacher? What can guarantee that students are inspired, challenged and intrigued day in and day out? Students from Eton College, one of the UK’s most prestigious private schools have complained that the quality of teaching is at a higher standard at sixth form than at higher education. Tony Little, former headmaster of Eton College told The Times Higher Education magazine that the whole sector needed improvement and to follow in the footsteps with the younger teachers and their outstanding perspective and ideas on teaching.
Not only is teaching under scrutiny, but the leap from A Levels to degree is too severe, and there isn’t enough effective conversation between sixth form, colleges and universities to help this feeling.
Universities, trying to keep their students engaged have introduced blended learning which involves using a diverse range of methods and teaching resources to offer a more effecting learning experience, and each activity will be designed around the learning styles of different groups of students. This type of learning can be applied to the Open University model which consists of online courses and classroom models where students are expected to study the content in their own time with independent studying and then attend a seminar, with a small group of students to consolidate their understanding.
Birmingham university has introduced this type of learning with their students viewing journal articles, presentations and podcasts – uploaded by their course leader – beforehand and then attend a session with their lecturer to put all the pieces together. This type of learning can ensure that students who have different needs for studying and engaging can interact with all types of material in different ways.
However this type of learning isn’t bullet proof. If a student misses a piece of the puzzle or doesn’t complete all of the internet or independent learning then the information they learn in the seminar won’t piece together, and vice versa when a student misses a lecture, their understanding may not be clarified. Blended learning, therefore, will only prove successful if a student has near enough 100% attendance and with work commitments, student night outs, and getting use to adult responsibilities, this may not bet the case for the entire student population.
Futhermore, with all of the excitement about blended learning, there is no proof as of yet if it gets results. The Open University is still currently assessing its efforts and at other institutions in the UK using the method, have only just begun the process. As a young concept there is no proof that it damages or improves students learning experience and degree results. But it does provide hope for the university experience evolving with technology, culture and time.
No matter which subject, course or university it is, these problems can occur across the world, in any classroom. Does the lecturer, subject information, or the inspiring connection between student and teacher fade? Is there such a thing as a good student, or a good teacher?