“..a themed collection of resources for use by English or Creative Writing lecturers in Higher Education for use by colleagues seeking to enhance or refresh their teaching practice.”
For several years now, the Subject Centre has run a 2-day colloquium in early winter for colleagues who have recently obtained their first full-time post (Early Career Lecturers’ Workshop). From the start it was obvious that we could no longer assume that new lecturers are inexperienced – many have accumulated hundreds of hours of teaching via different kinds of part-time contracts. Others will have benefited from Teaching Assistantship schemes operated by the department where they completed their PhD. So, in this sense, the title of this section may be a misnomer. Nonetheless what we hope to do here is to have a dedicated section on the website where those who are experiencing for the first time the different components and pressures of a full-time academic post (teaching + research + administrative responsibilities) might find information, resources and ideas directly relevant to them as lecturers of English.
One of the points made by Elaine Showalter in her book Teaching Literature (Blackwell, 2003) is that `it is not always easy to find out what our colleagues are doing behind those closed classroom doors’ (9). As she observes, this is what tends to separate teaching from other public professions such as law or medicine; many teachers rarely discuss what they do in the classroom with colleagues teaching similar material.
Recently, however, this sense of teaching as a `privatized’ profession has, as Showalter notes, been broken up, thanks in part to the increasing willingness on the part of teachers – or at least their institutions – to post programme and module resources up on the Internet, together with the availability of search tools such as the Syllabus Finder and the publication of a number of very accessible subject-specific books and journals. Following these developments, it is hoped this site can be used as a source of information but also as a place where public conversation can take place among new lecturers about particular curriculum issues as well as general challenges they face in that first eighteen months.
Since you have already found your way here, it’s worth noting that there is a good deal of interesting and suggestive material which you can access through the pages of this website. For instance, have you looked at T3 (Teaching Topics & Texts) yet? It is our library of re-usable teaching ideas. You might also wish to investigate our archive of Case Studies devoted to innovative practice in the teaching of Literature, Language and Creative Writing. Over the years the ESC has funded many small projects (£5000 on average) on a variety of topics within our subject. You can peruse our archive of these departmental mini-projects and, perhaps you will be inspired to experiment with some of the ideas they contain.
*NEW* our annual workshop for Early Career Lecturers is to be adopted by the subject association (University English).
(Photo on the left courtesy of Eyeweed on Flickr)