Teaching @ University

Last week I was on a few workshops about teaching strategies @ University. I have rich experience in mentoring students at all levels starting from freshmen and finishing pre-doctoral-thesis graduate students who spent all of the time writing their PhD thesis but I was never teaching before. Boy, I wish I would stay where I was…

It seems to me that the main idea of teaching @ University level (undergrads at least) is engagement. ‘Engagement’ is a key word for everything. Like panacea for terminally ill patient, engagement is the ray of hope for modern higher education system and, I believe, not only higher education. Even thinking about it makes me nauseous…

First of all, why should I treat students like toddlers and seek their attention through this ‘engagement’? I was honestly thinking I am at University, we are all adults. I am ready to treat students with respect they deserved, provide information, insight, answers they might seek, but why would I engage them into artificial relationships with science? Why would I force them to learn something they do not want to learn or not ready to learn, or not interested in learning?

Second, this ‘engagement’ itself substitute active learning which usually based on vivid interest in subject by passive learning through activation of some sort of brain activity and long-term memory. This is, basically, the main goal of ‘engagement’ – to make the passive learners from the students, to trick them into learning, to lure them into knowing something through ‘flash-cards, round tables’ and other bull-shit.
 I am sorry, but it does not fit into my personal values!

My question is – why nobody is talking about real issues in education? Why everybody is focused on teaching excellence, schools supplies and other non-directly related things while the real staff is out of discussion?

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