Why learning (and teaching) needs to be hard 

Our colleague Alex Steel has recently given a public lecture as a Fellow of the UNSW Scientia Education Academy.   A video of his lecture is now online (a bibliography is on the right of the page)

Why learning (and teaching) needs to be hard 

All achievement involves effort. Learning and teaching is no exception. There are no short-cuts, no easy fixes.
But not all effort leads to learning outcomes, and a lot of learning and teaching effort may well be wasted. Innovations in pedagogy and technology can reduce the amount of wasted effort. On the other hand, ‘trendy’ innovations in teaching and learning that appear to reduce effort may in fact make learning more difficult by falsely making it appear easy.
In this talk we’ll consider some of the dangers of the short-cuts we may be offering students and teachers, and the dangers of not recognising the degree of effort both need to be great learners and great educators. We’ll balance that with the life-long benefits that flow from hard work in education, and ways we can encourage positive engagement with harder learning and teaching.
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Great teaching: that indefinable, indescribable but identifiable thing

Our colleague Cathy Sherry has recently given a public lecture as a Fellow of the UNSW Scientia Education Academy.   A video of her lecture is now online

Great teaching: that indefinable, indescribable but identifiable thing

There is much institutions can do to improve teaching. The starting point is defining the basic characteristics of good teaching and requiring teachers to meet those standards. However, there is a core element of great teaching that is beyond precise definition or easy labelling. It is that process whereby a person takes complex concepts and communicates them to others in a comprehensible way; the combination of words or actions that makes ‘the penny drop’ so that students ‘get it’. We have all experienced that lightbulb moment with a great teacher and know the joy of having mastered complex ideas. It is the single most desirable thing for students in education and students know good teaching when they see it.
In a world with ever-increasing accountability and reporting, how can institutions recognise and reward a skill that is not easily reported? For the sake of our students, how can we identify and value staff, particularly sessional staff, who have that crucial skill in abundance?

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