Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. Everything has been figured out, except how to live. One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished. The line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life. There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are, that is the fact. When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow by too.Suddenly you see people appear who speak and then go away; you plunge into stories of which you can't make head or tail. You'd make a terrible witness. It is true that people who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Luckily, I only have a few...

Dr Shaw is a lecturer in Further Education at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She also offers philosophy courses at the School of Continuing Education, Lifelong learning, at the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she has completed her Doctorate in philosophy with a focus on existentialism, the equilibrium doctrine and narrative. She has worked as a teacher of English and Comparative literature and Philosophy at The American University in Cairo, Egypt where she also obtained her BA (Hons). Dr Shaw has an MA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of East Anglia where she also taught on a number of humanities subjects. Whilst working in North Wales in Further education, she gained a PGCE aimed at teaching in FE and HE sectors. Dr Shaw moved to Liverpool in 2010 where she now resides.

Interests: Existentialism, Narrative, Comparative Literature, Feminist Thought, Public Speaking, Arab Existentialism, Philosophy of Education, Art, Music, Film and Theatre, Greek Mythology, Existential counsellor and psychotherapist.


Monday, 15 November 2010

The Philosophy of Education: The tragedy of Lecturing in Halls

It has been known that in teaching one cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years...

I think it is fair in today's Society to say that good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost so much more. The cost of bad teaching is not financial only, but also catastrophic to society in general and individuals in particular. How many times have one questions how a person managed to secure their current job with such poor skills, qualifications and general abilities. It is tragic to see many people holding major important roles who are incapable of switching on a computer, producing a basic document or preparing an interesting speech. Education today unfortunately is getting worse- perhaps not many share my pessimism, however the evidence is there. One method of teaching that certainly allows students to hide into each other and cross their finger not to be detected is teaching in lecture halls. As seen in the image, the seating arrangement not only alienates the student from the tutor by keeping the students as inaccessible as possible from the tutor/lecturer, but also encourages students to avoid a tutor/student relation which is vital for reinforcing their learning process. Besides, student tend to lose the will to listen or learn after 20 minutes from a teacher's monologue, so imagine having the opportunity to hide behind the person infront of you for a quick nap unseen...
Teaching in lectures, no matter how much the lecturer attempts to make it interesting and enjoyable, has this effect on students. It never helps maintain a health attention span. The solution that some lecturers uses often is giving 20 minutes break within the lecture. This may not always be possible specially that at this current age and time, everything has to follow a schedule. Using multimedia like projectors, and powerpoint, is good if one knows how to produce stimulating slides that engages the students as well as get them involved. There is really no point doing so if one is not confident enough- it can become very boring and usually referred to as death by powerpoint which trust me, many lecturers/tutors today use it whether consciously or not.

So unfortunately, most education systems in middle eastern countries rely more on lecturing in halls. There is of course a significant difference from private universities who attempt to keep the number of students enrolling on one course low so that the tutor has a chance to engage with the class, while other universities- I would say this is more common- who rely 99% on lecturing where the tutor enters the class, give a talk, few questions here and there, then leaves without noticing much who is who or getting the chance to know the students capabilities to a great extent. One may argue that exams and other assessments methods will solve this problem, however, it is not usually enough- some students need more encouragement and personalised method of teaching to reach their potential and feel a sense of belonging, hence do their best and excel. Others are happy to continue attending lectures, getting a degree and taking on posts to survive- whether or not they are suitable for the job or have shown enough skill, knowledge, and ability to do the tasks or job- that will remain a never ending question....


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