Friday, August 07, 2009

University education can't be mechanistic

In a letter to the Times Peter Foster from Sheffield questions the mechanistic view of education promoted by the Dearing Report.
"Bureaucracy in its purest, rule-based, form relies on prediction and rigid planning. It is blind to the unfolding of knowledge, to the personal nature of education, and what motivates students. A uniformity of standards between universities is unattainable because they have different contexts and histories, and push the boundaries of knowledge in different ways. Although open to scrutiny, audit and criticism, they must have control of their intellectual life, which includes curriculum, teaching and examining.

It is this that makes them universities. Their courses are constrained into domains of coherence by the aims of the university and faculty; the structures in professional accreditation; the influence of external examiners; the academic and professional milieu of the staff, and, of course, the perceptions and ambitions of politicians.

This constitutes a necessary dynamic tension which, in the name of a false concept of accountability, is already made brittle."

Very well said.

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