We had a visit yesterday from our institutional liaison from the Higher Education Academy, the body for L&T development here in the UK. The visit was to update us on various activities, but mainly to discuss creating more Senior and Principal Fellows.
This was something that I hadn’t really considered beforehand: I’ve been a normal Fellow for many years now, but it’s never been something that has lured me, nor something that I was pushed towards.
Essentially, the Fellowship scheme is there to recognise good professional practice and impact and it was this that really got me thinking.
Too often, we tend to place Learning & Teaching somewhere behind research as an activity: certainly, in the UK at least, that’s a reflection of the values of the profession, where promotion is largely driven by research funding and outputs. As a result, much of our activity gets hidden away.
The important point that I took away from the meeting was simply the idea that we should recognise how much we put into teaching, even if we don’t realise it.
There’s the obvious stuff, like taking a class or marking assessments, but there’s also all the other things. This includes the reading and preparation for teaching, the discussions with colleagues in helping deliver a programme of study, the participation in programme meetings and exam boards, the external examining, the discussions at conferences and online, the reading/writing of blogs like these.
I often find myself reminding colleagues that teaching isn’t different from research, but is a necessary counterpart to it. If we can recognise that, then we might see more clearly that we give more to teaching that we might otherwise realise.
That’s important not so much because we should be claiming credit for it, but because we need to appreciate for ourselves how much teaching matters and how we put into doing it. If we don’t know we’re doing it, then it becomes that much harder to take pride in it.
So leave worrying about royal babies to one side and indulge yourself for a moment.