Another dot in the blogosphere?

Chew on this

Posted on: April 19, 2013

I might be about to bite the hand that feeds me. But I think that any reasonable person will see why.

I read the ST article Want to teach at NTU? Wow students first.

As part of a larger hiring process, prospective academic staff will conduct a lecture that students will rate:

“We get them to conduct a lecture, and the students will rate their teaching,” said Professor Kam Chan Hin, associate provost in charge of undergraduate education at NTU. “If they do poorly, then we will not take them in. We have had to turn away some with impressive credentials but who failed in connecting with the students.”

Ignore visions that this might look like a “reality” TV show where applicants entertain in a popularity contest. The reality is that it is not a novel idea. Having studied in the US, I can say that this is fairly common practice.

The thing to realize is that this is a one-time chance to perform in a lecture theatre. The candidate who knows how to play the game might be able to entertain but not necessarily educate.

That one time is not necessarily indicative of the candidate’s body of work. The lecture “contest” strategy would also exclude talent who might have better and more relevant instructor skills, e.g., facilitation of systemic thinking.

Furthermore, if “connecting with students” is a desired outcome, are lectures the best way to do this?

But here is what really made me scratch my head. The report also states:

Associate Professor Kwok Kian Woon, NTU associate provost in charge of student life, said that to accommodate the new way of learning, lecture theatres and tutorial rooms are already being converted into “smart classrooms” with LCD screens and movable furniture to allow for group discussions.

Ignore the fact that a classroom cannot be smart and focus on the fact that there is an attempt to change the physical environment to discourage old pedagogies.

Is the strategy to distinguish by ability to lecture and then tell new hires that they cannot lecture any more?

Lecturing is not going to nurture the type of learners the institute wants to send out into the world. The institute seems to be taking steps to reduce the practice of lectures. Why recruit on the ability to lecture?

I am confused. If someone could help me understand, I would appreciate it. Just don’t lecture me.

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