A Switch in Roles – from Teacher to Student

I have been asked to write a short story illustrating some aspect of my role in educational development. The obvious thought for me was how difficult it can be to switch roles from being the teacher / lecturer to being the student. Anyone who has worked on a PGCert in HE will have come across the reluctant lecturer, who is probably in our session on a compulsory basis, who seems to absolve themselves of adult sensibilities and seems to want to behave like the worst of students (and that is probably being unfair to students!) Here goes:

“Is it the equipment or the user?” The voice, dripping with sarcasm and unspoken contempt, piped up from the floor. Just loud enough to be heard by all but quiet enough not to be directly addressed by the lecturer. The animosity from the student is becoming palpable. No-one responds. The response comes later; in private; in one to one meetings. Some students are dissatisfied with such comments from a peer. The lecturers discuss how to tackle the negative and unprofessional behaviour. “Why would staff exhibit such behaviour?” they ask. “How would they feel if their students did the same to them?” The answers are obvious but the resolution is less so.

Hopefully, we don’t find this situation happening too often but it prompts be to reflect on my own responses when placed in the role of student / learner on a formal course. It also illustrates the broader challenge in my role and I’m sure your roles as well of developing people who don’t want to be developed! If we are to meet organisational goals there will always be an element of compulsory development and it is the challenge of addressing the ‘unwilling’ that is both fascinating and frustrating!

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