Friday, September 02, 2011

Learning: or, 'hacking your way through the jungle of unintelligibility'

I'm not an expert on British education policy, though having been an employee of an institution of higher education on that blessed isle for going on six years now, I have had had more than a little experience with its coal face (at least with regard to research).

Stefan Collini has a lengthy article critical of recent British educational reforms. I can't comment on all the details, but this passage hit the right note:
The paradox of real learning is that you don’t get what you ‘want’ – and you certainly can’t buy it. The really vital aspects of the experience of studying something (a condition very different from ‘the student experience’) are bafflement and effort. Hacking your way through the jungle of unintelligibility to a few small clearings of partial intelligibility is a demanding and not always enjoyable process. It isn’t much like wallowing in fluffy towels. And it helps if you trust your guides rather than assuming they will skimp on the job unless they’re kept up to the mark by constant monitoring of their performance indicators.
Translating this into 'policy', I know, is not easy.

But I would largely agree with Collini that perhaps too much is being tinkered with in a system that, in its previous state, hasn't been doing all that badly.

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