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AUTUMN

17th September


eventually broken he would use it to explore how it could be understood sociologically. The ordering of speaking and listening is part of the social furniture of the lecture hall and Nikolas would invite students to think about the way power, authority and knowledge were implicated in what had unfolded that morning. I doubt it was a lecture any of Rose's students ever forgot.

Nietzsche captures something important. Higher learning means that students have to train their ears. It is increasingly hard in our world of distractions to listen with undivided attention for a whole hour. Via mobile phones we hold the world in the palm of our hand and the temptation to text and email under the table is particularly strong. Many educators believe that the kind of obedient listening that takes place in a lecture is actually not a very good way to learn at all. I am sure this is right. However, a lecture is a listening workout. It forces students to face the difficulties of training a deep attentiveness.

It is unsurprising then that students find it hard to speak out, ask questions or for points of clarification when they don't understand. They don't want to appear foolish or incapable. So, Hannah, listen attentively but don't be silenced by the authority structure of the lecture hall. There is no such thing as a foolish question. It is the teacher's job to help you understand. This also goes for seminars and workshops. Regardless of the heavy historical weight of academic authority, every lecturer's worst nightmare

 


is a group of students who will not speak. So train your ear, listen carefully, but don't be silent.

2. Care about your grades but don't make them your only goal


Education in English schools has become so bureaucratic, obsessed with targets and levels of achievement, that pupils talk about their understanding within a grid of levels almost without reference to content. I am a level 6b in maths and I need to be a 7a," says the concerned key stage 3 student. The substance of what is learned has become almost irrelevant. This is having a carry-over effect on undergraduate students who have become increasingly instrumental in their relationship to learning. "What do I have to do to get a 2.1 in your class?" The truth is that it just doesn't work like that. There is no straightforward correspondence between how much you put into an assignment and the final grade. Of course, working hard, reading widely, following advice and guidance all help keep you on track. Write on topics that are genuinely interesting to you. Have ambition to understand as much as you can, submit yourself to the craft of thinking and focus on the content first and the grade second. This is actually the best way to ensure that you achieve the highest assessment levels.

3. Read and buy books

If instrumentalism leads to grade obsession then it also limits student's engagement with reading. Reading is the most important thing that any student does.

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AUTUMN -


27 September