The unofficial psychology blog from Paul Hutchings

Time to learn?

When I was a postgraduate student I did a funded ‘1+3’ ESRC research programme. It was a very prestigious thing to win one of these awards, a postgraduate route that built upon the ‘1’, a year-long MRes in research with the ‘3’, a full research PhD. I soon learnt, however, that everyone in academia considered it to be a ‘4’ – four years of gathering as much data as possible for an even bigger PhD thesis. Now I had no problem with that but there was a slight problem – I still had to pass the MRes part with all of its assignments, classes etc. Where exactly did that fit into things, I asked. The reply was ‘Oh yes, you have to attend these things and pass everything otherwise you fail everything – but don’t let it get in the way of the important stuff’.

It is now a few years since that postgrad stuff – yet I feel like it is all happening again! This time it is my PCET course – a qualification in teaching.  The university would love me to have it, I think I could learn a lot from it – but I also can’t let it interfere with my day job.  Now, when your day job generally entails 12 – 16 hour days running a course with over 300 students on a daily basis, and the university would also quite like you to put some new courses on as well, this doesn’t leave much time for learning…

And that is a shame to me.  I feel that it should be compulsory for all new staff to have to take a teaching qualification, but that it should also be built into the first couple of years of their contract so that they can use it properly and learn from it.  In the long run the benefit will be there for the university and the department.  And for people like me?  Well, I’ll keep going along, trying to learn what I can but also knowing that I’m probably missing out on some useful stuff as I try to do as much as I can… unless anyone out there has some way of controlling time that I can borrow? It would be much appreciated!

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