Students were warned that a lecture discussing Titus Andronicus and The Comedy of Errors would include ‘discussions of sexual violence’
Cambridge students have been given timetables bearing “trigger warnings” to alert them that a lecture on the works of Shakespeare could be upsetting.
In the English faculty’s notes on lectures document, students were warned that a lecture discussing the plays Titus Andronicus and The Comedy of Errors would include “discussions of sexual violence” and “sexual assault”.Continue reading...
The government’s teaching quality assessment has been controversial among academics, but its best-performing universities prioritise their staff
- Diana Beech is director of policy and advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute
It’s no secret that academics never really greeted the advent of the teaching excellence framework with open arms. Among the responses from university staff were concerns that it might undermine the public and educational benefits of universities and harm their working culture, collegiality and academic freedom. But a close read of the submissions to the exercise from gold medal-winning institutions suggests that academic communities may have been too quick to judge the teaching excellence juggernaut for its apparent faults.
I recently authored a report for the Higher Education Policy Institute, based on analysis of several universities’ provider submissions to the Tef assessment. The submissions I read were those that had enabled their institution to move a Tef award above the level initially suggested by their performance in the metrics-based section of the exercise.Continue reading...
Arthur I Miller on the young Indian who eventually proved that a star really could collapse and fall into a black hole
In the 1930s the rarefied world of science was ripped apart by a controversy that was to have devastating consequences for the development of astrophysics. It began when an Indian student called Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (Chandra) decided to work out what would happen if Einstein's special theory of relativity was applied to the processes that went on inside stars. This step was important because particles inside stars travel at speeds close to that of light, a situation where Einstein's theory must be used.
Pencil in hand, 19-year-old Chandra did some calculations. At the time, scientists assumed that when a star burned up the last of its fuel, it would turn into a ball of cinders and go cold - become a white dwarf star. Chandra's mathematics showed that a white dwarf much heavier than the sun could not exist, but would undergo an eternal collapse into a tiny point of infinite density, until it slipped though a crevice in space and time, from which nothing could escape, not even light. It was the first irrefutable mathematical proof that black holes - as they were later dubbed - had to exist.Continue reading...
New Office for Students set to receive powers to crack down on ‘safe spaces’ and bans on controversial speakers
Universities will be told that they must uphold free speech and clamp down on student unions that “no platform” controversial speakers, the government is to announce.
Jo Johnson, the universities minister, set out plans to challenge the culture of so-called safe spaces in universities, which could allow the newly created Office for Students (OfS) to fine, suspend or register universities that fail to protect freedom of speech on campuses.Continue reading...
Thrown out of his Kentucky home for being gay, the writer felt his life spiralling downwards. Then he took up opera singing – and everything he had been forced to suppress suddenly exploded out
I became an opera singer because I failed ninth-grade English. I was a terrible student, lazy and without any apparent gifts, and my mark fell further because shortly before semester’s end my father discovered I was gay and kicked me out. My parents were divorced, and though my mother would have her own long journey when it came to accepting a gay son, she took me in. Even with a bed to sleep in, though, the change in my situation, and the sudden separation from my father, left little room for study. A guidance counsellor sat me down to explain that as a communications student I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time with a missed semester of English; her suggestion was that I change the focus of my studies. I remember looking over the brochure she handed me and being surprised to see that one possibility was choir – the school had the city’s only high-school performing arts programme. I had never been musical but I had sung in church choir and I remember thinking that, of the choices available, choir would surely be the easiest.
It frightens me a little, to think of all that followed from that choice. The choral director, David Brown, heard something promising in my voice. He started giving me lessons after school, for free – and at a cost to himself I wouldn’t understand until decades later when I worked as a teacher and realised how precious that time must have been. He worked with me on scales and exercises and finally simple songs. He taught me about breath and support, and I felt my voice take on a power and spaciousness that surprised and thrilled me. It was my voice, I felt as I sang, but grander than my voice; it suggested I had unsuspected dimensions. He also introduced me to opera, lending me recordings and video tapes, and in doing so gave me my first real experience of art.
New research shows that 94% of staff pay for essential classroom materials. Five teachers describe how the schools funding crisis is leaving them out of pocket
Would you expect a nurse to have to pay for paracetamol for their patients or a firefighter to foot the bill for the water they use in putting out fires? With the schools budget in England slashed by £2.8bn since 2015 – an average of £53,000 and £178,000 for each primary and secondary school respectively – this is increasingly the reality for teachers.
New research from the National Education Union (the newly merged National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers) and TES has revealed that 94% of teachers are having to pay for school essentials such as books, while 73% are regularly paying for stationery supplies, because their schools are underfunded. For some, expenses total £1,000, while two-thirds have made cash donations – and this comes on top of the 42% of parents who were asked to donate to their children’s school this year. Other parents and carers have been asked to supply teaching equipment such as stationery and books, in addition to essentials such as toilet paper.Continue reading...
I must prepare my sons to race with the robots, and not against them – but that means sending them to schools that are equipped to exceed the averages
Years ago, as a reporter in Seattle, I watched Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer decry Washington state’s education system. He said Microsoft couldn’t hire enough locals because our schools don’t produce the kinds of minds he needed.
At the time, I was angry. He and his cohort, most notably Jeff Bezos of Amazon, contributed serious money to the campaign against a state income tax on the wealthy that would have funneled billions to our schools. Now I feel a pinch deep in my stomach, an emotion so primal I hesitate to name it.Continue reading...
Throw away the script and think before you speak, say admissions interviewers
Interviews are a chance for university applicants to ask questions about the course, meet the academic team and show they deserve a place. They might also be a time to say “um, like” six times every sentence, develop a muscle twitch and get hit by a crippling cough.
To demystify its interview process and soothe students’ nerves, Oxford University last week released its annual sample questions and – crucially – the answers to them. But besides knowing what questions might come up, what else can you do to prepare? And how does this differ at other universities? We spoke to interviewers to find out more.Continue reading...