Trying and Failing

In the Easter break perhaps, like me, you have a little time for reading. I came across a couple of newspaper articles that I thought might interest some of you.

The first summarises advice from Harry Potter author JK Rowling on failing. She  has a new book out, Very Good Lives: the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. Rowling’s message is that failure can be a very educational experience. The only trouble is that its lessons are often hard ones, only valued some time later in retrospect. I have often thought that it would be good to find ways to incorporate the experience of failure into our curriculum but it’s not likely to be a popular move, given students’ (quite reasonable) preoccupation with getting good grades and the College’s preoccupation with student satisfaction surveys…

On a related note there are perhaps lessons on failure for the department in this piece, which describes a mis-firing attempt to introduce literacy and numeracy lessons to communities in small villages in Bangladesh. The key point is in the final paragraph: “The point isn’t to fail, but to catch points of failure – and there will be many – within a complex system.”

And finally, are we succeeding or failing in our experiments with lecture recording? We are certainly trying and I know it has generally gone down well with students. Views among staff on the pedagogic value of lecture recording are more mixed. Here is an article from a professor of education at Nottingham University arguing that lecture capture shouldn’t be seen as a unqualified good.  Worth a read. This is obviously something that we will be keeping under review.

One more thing (added 13 April): This isn’t really related apart from being another interesting and relevant piece: Ten things you probably don’t know about your University lecturers written by Dr Vikki Burns who works at Birmingham university. Her argument is that lecturers (like students!) are human too…

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