A professor of English has gone public with her frustrations with a course of study that has left her unable to teach the course.
A post on the British Psychological Society’s (BPPS) Facebook page on Monday asked for suggestions on how to improve the performance of a course taught by a colleague who has failed to be her mentor.
The professor, who requested anonymity to protect her identity, said the course she had taken in the late 1980s was designed to teach students to understand and interpret their own thoughts and feelings.
It was meant to provide a solid foundation in how people thought and felt about themselves and their actions, she said.
When I got into the course, it was a good foundation, she wrote.
I learnt that people think differently and that we need to be open about our own thoughts, feelings and feelings to understand the world around us.
This course has not helped, she writes.
I’ve learnt that my students and I do not talk about our thoughts, and that I need to teach them how to be more thoughtful and considerate about their own feelings and thoughts.
We need to learn how to understand ourselves and our own feelings, she continued.
My students have also learnt that I can teach them to be less sensitive to what they say and what they think, she added.
They are now aware that they are capable of doing that, she concludes.
These students are not learning how to listen and care about others.
They are learning how not to listen.
The only thing I have taught them is how to have compassion for myself, she states.
She says she is currently working on a new course of work for the university that will prepare students to be responsible, compassionate, and empathetic people.
In a follow-up post on Tuesday, she asks for suggestions from her students on how they might be better able to teach this course of material.
You should never be expected to teach an undergraduate course on the topic of how to manage your feelings, the post says.
Instead, you should teach it to students who are capable and prepared to be the teachers they will be, she continues.
If you are teaching a course in the humanities, for example, consider teaching the students the skills of empathy and critical thinking, she adds.
However, students should not be taught to think in a particular way or to judge their own behaviour, she suggests.
Instead, they should be taught the basics of thinking and feeling, such as: What’s important to me, what I value, what makes me happy, what keeps me moving forward, how to keep myself motivated and on track, how I make decisions, how we can manage emotions, and so on.
And students should be shown how to use their own judgement and judgement is power to make informed decisions, she advises.
But, most importantly, students are taught that they can do more.
That is, they need to get outside and think about the bigger picture, she urges.
Students should be encouraged to consider the wider social context in which they live, and the wider world around them, she says.
To help students to do this, she has launched a project, ‘Civic Responsibility’, which aims to make them aware of how the social context affects their behaviour, the power of others, and their ability to make moral judgements.
Professor Flitwick has been teaching for over 35 years and is the current chair of the Faculty of Arts and Science, where she also runs a course on moral judgement.