Jumping v stretching
Anthony Grayling points out that university students aren’t there to get maximum ‘contact hours’ with faculty.
The assumption that lies behind the contact hours issue is a deeply mistaken one. It is that universities are a simple extension of school, and that as at school, students should be given as much attention as possible. This misunderstanding is astonishing coming from Peter Mandelson, who read PPE at Oxford, though comprehensible enough among students first encountering a much more independent working style than they had while being prepared for the endless hoop-jumping at school…University is emphatically not about spoon-feeding and hand-holding through courses, but the very opposite. It is not about maximising contact hours, but about autonomy in thinking, researching and writing. We once used to ask, “What are you reading at university?” In those words lies the clue to what a university education is supposed to involve. People who get into university change educational gear and direction on doing so. They read and attend lectures, they write essays and discuss them with their tutors and peers. To do this in a knowledgeable and intelligent way, they have to do a lot of thinking, studying and discovering, the bulk of it for themselves, because no one else can do it for them.
And…that’s paradise, you know? That’s the whole point. The jumping through hoops part is no fun – it’s doing a lot of independent thinking, studying and discovering that is fun.