Every day I read about 10 newspapers, especially the education section of the NYT and Washington Post. Today, there’s an article about Harvard, that I am simply flabbergasted.
Apparently, the interim President at Harvard is realizing that teaching is as important as research. They are looking at implementing radical institutional change that includes evaluation and assessment of teaching and learning, along with contributions to research.
Uh wait a second? You mean it’s not enough to simply be a scholar and publish, they’re supposed to *gasp* teach too?! DUH! The fact that this wasn’t happening before honestly concerns me. Why in the world weren’t these universities focusing on teaching before? With the current culture of accountability and raising the bar, especially in primary and secondary education, why is that not translating into higher education? Truly we have some of the best universities in the world, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get better.
As a student, I would have given my right arm to be able to go to Harvard. It is consistently rated in the top 5 undergraduate universities by US News and World Report, and parents are mortgaging their homes, while students sink themselves into inordinate loan debt to get the “Harvard education” and you mean to tell me that they don’t really teach there??! Why have I been lied to for so long?
Some other quotes from the same article that made me say, duh:
“It’s about the pursuit of excellence in teaching,” said Professor Skocpol, the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “We need to put our money where our mouth is. We can’t just mention excellent teachers occasionally. We have to notice and reward their efforts consistently.”
As Professor Skocpol put it, “People at Harvard are concerned when they hear that some of our undergraduates can go through four years here and not know a faculty member well enough to get a letter of recommendation.”
Apparently this is not just Harvard, but indicative of many Ivies. . .
Columbia is taking the Harvard report into account as it moves through its own review, said Alan Brinkley, Columbia’s provost. “If we’re going to ask some undergraduates to pay as much as $47,000 a year to come to these elite universities,” he said, “then we have an obligation to make sure they get a great education.”
Lately I’ve been putting myself in the mind-set for a future in education administration– and this quote definitely speaks volumes.
“In all our meetings, faculty would tell us, ‘I enjoy teaching, I find a lot of satisfaction in contact with students, in improving my courses, but I don’t feel the institution values it or rewards it or cares about it,’ ” she said. “It’s about institutional culture and reward.”
We need to put our money where our mouth is and ensure that our priorities are met. As Dr. Stephen Covey says, “The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”