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Effective ThinkingThe Accidental MindThe Age of EmpathyThe Altruism EquationThe Altruistic BrainThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Clinical PsychiatryThe Anatomy of BiasThe Anxious BrainThe Archaeology of MindThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Art InstinctThe Art of HypnosisThe Asymmetrical BrainThe Bifurcation of the SelfThe Big Book of ConceptsThe Big DisconnectThe Birth of IntersubjectivityThe Birth of the MindThe Blackwell Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge ManagementThe Blank SlateThe Body Has a Mind of Its OwnThe Bounds of CognitionThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe BrainThe BrainThe Brain and the Meaning of LifeThe Brain SupremacyThe Brain That Changes ItselfThe Brain's Way of HealingThe Brain: Big Bangs, Behaviors, and BeliefsThe Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive ScienceThe Cambridge Handbook of Situated CognitionThe Character of ConsciousnessThe Chemistry Between UsThe Choice EffectThe Clinical Science of Suicide PreventionThe Cognitive Approach to 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Psychology of SuperheroesThe Psychophysiology of Self-AwarenessThe Pursuit of PerfectThe Quest for Mental HealthThe Rational ImaginationThe Ravenous BrainThe Reasons of LoveThe Righteous MindThe Routledge Companion to Philosophy of PsychologyThe Routledge Companion to Philosophy of PsychologyThe Science of EvilThe Science of Intimate RelationshipsThe Science of Shame and its Treatment The Second SelfThe Secret History of EmotionThe Secret Lives of BoysThe Self and Its EmotionsThe Self-Sabotage CycleThe Sense of SelfThe Sensitive SelfThe Shape of ThoughtThe Social AnimalThe Social Nature of Mental IllnessThe Social Neuroscience of EmpathyThe Social Psychology of Good and EvilThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Story of Intellectual DisabilityThe Structure of ThinkingThe Survivors ClubThe Talking ApeThe Teenage BrainThe Tell-Tale BrainThe Temperamental ThreadThe Tender CutThe Tending InstinctThe Time ParadoxThe Trauma MythThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trouble with IllnessThe True PathThe Truth About GriefThe Turing TestThe Uncertain SciencesThe Undoing ProjectThe Unhappy ChildThe Upside of IrrationalityThe War for Children's MindsThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Wild Girl, Natural Man, and the MonsterThe Winner's BrainThe Wisdom in FeelingThe Woman RacketThe World in My Mind, My Mind in the WorldThe Wow ClimaxThe Yipping TigerThemes, Issues and Debates in PsychologyTheoretical Issues in Psychology: An IntroductionTheory of AddictionTheory of MindThings and PlacesThink CatThink Confident, Be ConfidentThinking about AddictionThinking and SeeingThis Emotional Life: In Search of Ourselves...and HappinessThought and LanguageThought in a Hostile WorldTo Have and To Hurt:Toward an Evolutionary Biology of LanguageToward Replacement Parts for the BrainTrauma and Human ExistenceTrauma, Tragedy, TherapyTreating Attachment DisordersTreating Self-InjuryTreating Self-Injury: A Practical GuideTrue to Our FeelingsTrusting the Subject?Understanding and Treating Borderline Personality DisorderUnderstanding ConsciousnessUnderstanding ParanoiaUnderstanding PeopleUnderstanding TerrorismUndoing Perpetual StressUnlock the Genius WithinUnsettled MindsUnstrange MindsUnthinkingUnthoughtUs and ThemViolent PartnersVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVision and MindVisual AgnosiaWarrior's DishonourWe Who Are DarkWednesday Is Indigo BlueWelcome to Your BrainWhat Do Women Want?What Dying People WantWhat Have We DoneWhat Intelligence Tests MissWhat Is an Emotion: Classic and Contemporary ReadingsWhat Is Emotion?What is Intelligence?What Is Mental Illness?What Is Thought?What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite What the Best College Students DoWhat the Dog SawWhat We Know about Emotional IntelligenceWhat We Say MattersWhat's Wrong With Morality?When Boys Become BoysWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen the Impossible HappensWhen Walls Become DoorwaysWho's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWho's in Charge?Why Humans Like to CryWhy Love MattersWhy Lyrics LastWhy People CooperateWhy People Die by SuicideWhy Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human BehaviorWhy Smart People Can Be So StupidWhy the Mind is Not a ComputerWhy Us?Why We LieWhy We LoveWider than the SkyWilliam James at the BoundariesWilling, Wanting, WaitingWittgenstein And PsychologyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWorking MindsYoga and PsychologyYou Are What You RememberYoung Minds in Social WorldsYour Brain on CubsYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Brain on YogaYour Child in the BalanceZombies and Consciousness
I have on my
shelves a number of 'must read' books. These are treasures of which I often
own multiple copies and which I recommend and loan to others. Such books must
be engaging and absorbing, offer me something new or challenging to think about
and above all must be the kind of book I just cannot put down until I've
finished reading it. Tara Brabazon's book sits in this category on my shelf.
the vexed question of what education is in this increasingly digitised age.
There is a new language surrounding higher education, new metaphors and new
modes of delivery including the use of the Internet (the "new deity" p.xii).
In this context it is often administrators who inform teachers about teaching,
modes of delivery which override quality of content; and it is where students,
as customers, are given education as though it were merely another consumer
product. How does higher education fit into a consumerist age of technology?
The book is best summarised in Brabazon's words:
Any society that is not prepared to
invest in education is demolishing its future. It will take a generation, but
if we lose the capacity to create, desire, imagine and critique, we destroy the
memory, intensity and inheritance of our history. Money must be set aside for
educational infrastructure. The imperatives of more hospitals, more prisons
and more warships will always appear more urgent and more popular at election
time. Politicians can never 'win' using education, because the results are
only revealed through a lifetime of social and cultural contribution to
citizenship, rather than the quick fix needed for the next political debate. (p.186).
Speaking from the
heart and as an experienced teacher, one can almost hear Brabazon's voice echo
out of the pages. Her style varies from formal to chatty and is interspersed
by well-chosen quotes, personal reflections and snippets from various email and
online discussions. These reflections add much to underline her points and
demonstrate the diversity and depth of her expertise. Underlying this are her
passion for the adventure of education "… intellectual life is a verb
rather than a noun: becoming, rather than being." (p.189) and her
passionate defence of its place within society. "The teaching conducted
at universities is not given the credit or attention it deserves."
(p.104) "Lecturing is not a performance. It is public speaking at its
most precise and advanced." (p.107)
In many ways the
book is a practitioner's exploration of current educational practices in the
university sector. It covers an enormous range of topics. At times it is
deliberately provocative, at other times more reflective, but always leading
the reader through a considered position about what it is to teach (and learn)
in the age of the Internet. Brabazon questions the current fashionable uses of
computer-mediated technologies in teaching and the ways in which this tends to
make both content and delivery superficial. "The choices of technology
must always be determined by learning goals, not through technological
directives." (p.115). "Technology is not the solution to poor
teaching." (p.123). "Lectures are not the problem: bad lecturers
are. The computer, as muse, is not an effective replacement for the sage."
(p.131). She draws out at length the irony that the very technologies that are
supposed to be empowering our teaching are leading to a disempowerment of
teachers. "The Internet is not a ballot box. There is no evidence to
demonstrate that digitisation has permitted an education for those who have
been excluded from the education system. There is little confirmation that the
Internet has made a difference to poverty or powerlessness. The poverty line
is being reinforced, rather than collapsed, by the information line." (p.185).
Today's teacher is
increasingly an administrator -- overloaded with managing the use of online
material and discussions, becoming a manager of information in an environment
where students have been transformed into customers or consumers who purchase
knowledge as a commodity. The problem is that "… education is not
a business. Students are not consumers. Attaining a degree is not like
shopping online." (p.32). While technology has presented many new
opportunities, the craft of teaching has suffered in this results-orientated
environment. "Teaching -- in its best sense -- does not focus on an end
point." (p.26). The teacher's role is "to problematise an
unquestioning allegiance to information for its own sake" (p.59).
becoming increasingly skills orientated -- student output is measured by the
skills they have learned / mastered. However, education must be more than
training for the work place or job preparation, it is the acquisition of
life-skills based on thought and reflection. Critical reading and reflection
must surround teaching. "It is difficult to teach students to read. It
is a taxing duty to remind scholars that good writing is not an elective
component of a university degree. Sparkling writing is a gift. Sloppy prose,
poor referencing and incomprehensible paragraph construction crumble the best
ideas off the page" (p.47).
commitment are fundamental to the educational adventure. Education requires us
to challenge and question ideas, to participate in the debates and discussions,
and to develop the ability to live with confusion. "…if students treat
university like a hobby then it will get them one. If they treat it like a
workplace, it will get them a job. If students are in paid employment thirty
hours a week, and slide into university for one day without being prepared for
class and with assignments written he night before they are due, then they are
not undertaking a university education; they are attending a drop-in centre
with an assignment slot." (p.55)
The question is
will we end up simply reading this dynamic book for enjoyment - to be
entertained, or will we allow the ideas to permeate our assumptions and let
ourselves be challenged by Brabazon's excursion into the world of higher
education and its potential for change?
© 2003 Erich von Dietze
Erich von Dietze,
PhD, Chaplain, University Counseling Services, Curtin
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