Being a Teacher in Higher Education

Being a Teacher in Higher Education

Being a Teacher in Higher Education

Being a Teacher in Higher Education


Being A Teacher in Higher Education draws extensively on research literatures to give detailed advice about the core business of teaching: instruction, learning activities, assessment, planning and getting good evaluations. It offers hundreds of practical suggestions in a collegial rather than didactic style.

This is not, however, another book of tips or heroic success stories. For one thing Peter Knight appreciates the different circumstances that new, part-time and established teachers are in. For another, he insists that teaching well (and enjoying it) is as much about how teachers feel about themselves as it is about how many slick teaching techniques they can string together. He argues that it is important to develop a sense of oneself as a good teacher (particularly in increasingly difficult working conditions); and it is for this reason that the final part of this work is about career management and handling change.

This is a book about doing teaching and being a teacher: about reducing the likelihood of burn-out and improving the chances of getting the psychic rewards that make teaching fulfilling. It is an optimistic book for teachers in universities, many of whom feel that opportunities for professional fulfilment are becoming frozen.


Something like this book should have been written by Jo Tait of the Open University. Having co-edited a book on one of her passions, independent learning (Tait and Knight, 1996), she wanted to write about teaching in higher education from a whole-person perspective. The working title was Inspiring Higher Education. The book never got written because paid work, in the form of short-term contracts on demanding projects that left no space for this sort of creativity, took precedence. I had often talked with her about what Inspiring might say, how and to whom. I became enthusiastic about a book that went beyond hints for practice and tried to take an integrated view of teachers' work. As it became clear that her work on Associate Lecturers in the Open University (for example, Tait, 2002) would stymie the chances of Inspiring getting written, I suggested doing a book that would be similar to and different from it. This is it. Plainly my voice is not hers. She wants to say things that I cannot but is not positioned to say some of the things that I do. Yet there is still a sense in which she is an author of this book and I the writer.

John Skelton of Open University Press has been a supporter from Jo's first approach to him through to my detailed proposal. Without him, no book. John Cowan was one of the Open University Press referees. A skilled writer himself (Cowan, 1998), he gave enthusiastic support that ran to pages of suggestions for writing better. More, in fact, than I have been able to accommodate. So too with David Baume, whose generous advice and comments I have valued.

I enjoy writing with my Lancaster colleague Paul Trowler and although he has not directly contributed to this book it has been influenced by the writing we have done together and the work we intend to do. So too with Mantz Yorke of Liverpool John Moores University. He has affected what is in these pages in ways that he may not recognize but which are nevertheless profound.

Time spent working in Dalhousie University's Office of Instructional Development in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then as a Royal Bank Fellow in . . .

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