In order to improve the quality of instructors at college and university level,

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  • Administrator
    University: University of Wisconsin
    March 20, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    [This essay was written by Lin Qiu using British English)

    Topic: “In order to improve the quality of instructors at college and university level, all faculty should be required to spend time working outside the academic world in professions relevant to the courses they teach.”

    The standard of teaching at either college or university level can vary enormously between different institutions. As a result, students can suffer if lectures or seminars are conducted by inexperienced faculty who have no or little practical experience of the subject they are teaching. Accordingly, it is proposed that instructors should be required to undergo work experience outside the academic arena in a profession which is directly linked to the courses they teach. From my perspective, this suggestion appears to bear the hallmarks of a commonsense approach to a widely accepted weakness of university teaching.

    In the first place, for students to be successful in their chosen courses they need to benefit from as broad a range of experience as possible. Unfortunately, many lecturers proceed into academic teaching directly from university themselves. They are unlikely, therefore, to have gained sufficient hands-on experience which can only be obtained by practical workplace experience. Clearly, the workplace, in whatever profession, either medicine, law, accountancy, or any other, is the place where theory is put into practice. It cannot be disputed, for instance, that theory doesn’t expose mistakes, whereas the everyday working environment is the place where errors can be, and are made on a regular basis.

    Undoubtedly, the blunders made in our working lives are the essential ingredients required to build valuable experience. We learn from our faults and lapses, and we teach ourselves not to repeat those mistakes if we want to become the master of our individual careers. Obviously, if a college instructor has had no hands-on experience, he or she will have limited knowledge to pass onto the students. Those young inquisitive minds learning the theory of a profession often have a myriad of questions to which they require genuine, solid answers, which can only come from those with the appropriate and pertinent experience.

    In the final analysis, there is no substitute for experience in any walk of life. A university, the seat of higher education, should be no exception. It is my belief that no lecturer should be allowed in the lecture hall without at least one or two years of practical experience of the profession linked to their course. A theory-based teacher is like a hollow piece of wood, empty of the practical elements of the everyday workplace.