Under the guise of ‘innovation’, Ian Young proposes to cut our tutorials at the College of Arts and Social Sciences. You will remember last year he said there was an innovative way to teach music, too. Next thing you know there will be an innovative way to teach fine arts, science, business, or any other degree that involves shedding staff and replacing tutorials with mass participation forums. Make no mistake; the end of tutorials is a bad thing for CASS kids.
The argument that forums are good is a myth peddled by Ian Young and sure to be reflected in the ‘review’ conducted by Marnie-Hughes Warrington. What makes forums so attractive you ask? Well, they don’t require tutors for a start. Cha-ching. But let’s look at the other reasons being circulated out there.
Direct access to your lecturer? Sounds like a nice idea, because we have that already. They’re called office hours, and every lecturer has them. Also email.
Enhanced flexibility for working students? Tutorials are offered over a range of days and times. Furthermore, if you want to attend the ANU, you should attend at least your tutorials. If you can’t you’re either working too much and should enrol in an online university, or are just lazy.
Tutorials are important. They allow students to express their ideas, and for other students to counter with their own views. The free and frank exchange of views is how people learn and grow, and mass forums cannot replicate this. Everyone has had a bad tutor, or a class dominated by only a handful of people. But as my tutor told me last week, those serendipity moments, where elements of the course just click, are more likely to come in close discussion with your tutor and peers than in a class of 200.