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September 21, 2002

A Good Day's Handwringing redux


Thanks for the tip regarding Robert Fulford's article in Canada's National Post. He examines how universities neglect what the public expects them to do--that is, educate students--to pursue their true priority: research. The article reviews a recent book by two political scientists at the University of Alberta, Tom Pocklington and Allan Tupper, "No Place to Learn: Why Universities Aren't Working." You can read the entire article here.

A selection from Fulford's article:

Pocklington and Tupper go so far as to question the principle that research and teaching are interdependent and that good researchers make good teachers. This is a sacred belief in academe, but no one has ever demonstrated it; the only evidence for it is anecdotal, the kind that professors reject when it's offered by students. Anyway, say Pocklington and Tupper, if that idea is valid, why do universities reward good researchers by lightening their "teaching load?" They also argue that professors, driven to justify themselves, often do research of no value to anyone.

By the way, I'm not sure I ever mentioned a friend of mine who dropped out of our Lousy Ivy League university for a year and who took some classes back home at a very unprestigious local college (at best, one notch up from a community college.) When he returned, I asked him about how the classes were, expecting from what he had told me about the school that they would be a joke. His reply: "Actually, what was surprising was how much better the instruction was." Shocked, I asked him how such a rinky-dink place could offer better instruction than our august institution. "Well," he said, pondering that question, "I guess it's because they work at it. It's like their job, you know?"



posted by Friedrich at September 21, 2002


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