Teaching off-the-shelf curricula does university students a disservice

Jun 9, 2018 by

In the US, I was coerced into teaching a prepackaged course that stifled creativity. I fear UK universities are not far behind

Last year, having moved to a new city in the US, I answered an ad to teach part-time in an unaccredited business school looking to improve its status with better-qualified staff. During my job interview the provost told me that she was less interested in my teaching credentials than in my experience as a consultant. I asked why.

The emphasis of the school, she said, was to employ “instructors” with practical business experience. Proof of teaching ability was of less interest to them. Although I had taught in several highly-ranked business schools previously, I was told that I would not be allowed to design my own curriculum based on material I’d either published myself or selected from the best sources available. Instead, she insisted I use the pre-established course syllabus.

When I read over the outline I remarked that the textbook they wanted me to wrap the course around is widely regarded by academics in the field as charlatanism, full of meaningless cliches and pseudo-vocational training. But she insisted. “We’ve used this book successfully in the past,” she said. “And the last time we let the instructor try something different, the course was a disaster.”

I told her that this struck me as poor logic: just because something happened once doesn’t mean it’ll happen again. You would have thought that would have been it – but they decided to give me the job anyway. I managed to find a way of putting together a revised syllabus using the mandated textbook along with other relevant texts and publications to stimulate more creative, critical thinking.

During my first class I went over the syllabus and came clean about my
unenthusiastic view of narrow, shallow investigations that stifle independent
thinking, like the textbook I was being forced to teach. I announced that we’d be unveiling how “business strategy” has devolved into schemes for manufacture, advertising and distribution that primarily serve corporate interests.

Source: Teaching off-the-shelf curricula does university students a disservice | Anonymous academic | Higher Education Network | The Guardian

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