A response to Cora Beth’s Tutor Manifesto (which you should read first), by Steven Havelin.
Now I loathe all that pestilential (or penitential) personality-presentational-popularity-performace-public-presence guff. Not because I shy away from it (I have, for too long now, had to be only too-well-versed in the whole bells-and-whistles of it all) but because it has NOTHING to do with intellectual development, academic progress, or enjoyment of learning.
Q. Are you more of a leader or a team-player?
A. Well, I can do both.
Q. So which one do you think you’re better at?
A. I’m good at both.
Q. Well which would you rather be, given the choice?
A. Neither! I like to get on with my own thing, in my own way, on my own. Leave me alone, please. I’m happy in my own world, sat at the back, reading this book. Thank you very much. You can go away now. Goodbye. [smiles politely and looks away]
Awkward pause. Stunned silence.
I don’t want to ‘scribe’. I’ve no desire to stand in front of a flip-chart with a marker pen. It doesn’t make feel important, or useful, or like I’m making a valuable contribution to the group.
I’m not impressed by laser pointers. Nor, for me, the novel thrill of a blue-tooth remote hand-held mouse to advance my PowerPoint slides at a distance – seemingly by the sheer power of my mind. I’m not a digital Jedi. I’m not even secretly pretending to myself in my head that I am.
Seriously!! I’m no Luddite but this obsession with ‘presentations’ – the fixation with looking instead of listening – drives me to distraction. Used properly, and sparingly, some visual elements have their place. But the only thing that should ever go on a screen is what won’t work on a handout!
I don’t want to chair a group. Spare me the ‘share-in-a-pair’ and then ‘share-in-a-square’ so it’s ‘all-fine-and-fair’ (or I’m likely to swear!). And no; I wouldn’t then like to collate everyone’s contributions, stand at the front, and report back what my group thought, thank you very much.
And if there’s a spot to be put on, keep me off it! No it isn’t good practice for me to have to face a barrage of questions and be able skilfully to deflect them all. I want to be good at knowing the answers; not at pretending I do; or covering up the fact that I don’t! I don’t want to become ever more adept at disguising my ignorance. I want my BA or my BSc; not my BBs (Bachelor of Bullsh*t!)!
Why are educational experiences hijacked and transformed into training exercises which target the transferable skills of corporate and political arenas? Isn’t that just subtly brainwashing everyone for the business world? Or am I being too cynical? [No!]
I don’t want to be graded on how well I work in a group. I want to know how good the essay I’ve written is. My essay. Written by me. On my own. Myself. And I want someone proper (my lecturer, tutor or supervisor) to be the one to judge it. I don’t want the result I’m awarded to be some dubiously-arrived-at peer-assessed stab-in-the-dark!
I don’t want a shared mark for the joint presentation project with the rubbish PowerPoint some berk who couldn’t be bothered cobbled together when I’ve slaved away conscientiously over a really good handout, or worksheet, or text for the accompanying talk. Nor, to be quite frank, do I want said berk to get better than they deserve on the back of my efforts either!
No brainstorming. No thought showers. None of that nonsense where you chuck a ball around and whoever catches it gets to develop the argument one step further. What on Earth is all that about? No! Don’t tell me. I don’t think I could stand it!
I could go on but I won’t! [audible sighs of relief]
I’m off to read my book…
on my own…
in the corner…
facing the wall!!!