Research is an essential part of teaching

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Nobel winner questions lecture’s value”
Nov. 7, 2007

To the editor:
I am pleased to hear that a Nobel-calibre researcher has taken the time to direct his attention towards post-secondary education. Your editorial is right to point out the importance of effective teaching. Students are always changing and there is always room for improvement.

I am less concerned with whether or not Wieman is correct to criticize current lecture methods than I am reassured such discussion is taking place.

However, the assertion in your editorial that “the best student experience mandates that teaching come first” is a bit extreme. I am especially bewildered by the argument that “as tuition-paying students, we have a right to have professors putting emphasis on our education.”

The university’s primary responsibility is to the search for truth, not to please its “customers.” Universities are institutions not only of teaching, but of research.

I agree the education of students is important, but how can this education happen without knowledgeable professors who are making progress in their field? Your editorial presents a false dichotomy: “papers and journal entries” are essential not just to Western as an institution, but to the students themselves.

It’s nice to see instructors go out of their way to use PowerPoint, vocal inflections, hand gestures and props to make their classes more exciting. Nice, but unnecessary.

We have theatre for that. What is necessary is a thorough knowledge of the material, which itself requires scholarship.
"Annick MacAskill
French Literature IV

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