Harden's Blog

June 2020 - 'Investing in our students'

Professor Harden discusses investing in our students, What should students learn, that as teachers we are not meaningless, and motivation.

Investing in our students
The rhododendrons in my garden have been spectacular this year. Their performance is a reflection not of their management in the current year but of how I looked after and nourished them during the previous two years. How we nourish our students and trainees while they are with us will have a huge influence on how they perform as doctors.

What should students learn?
In the May blog, stimulated by reading the April issue of the Quarterly Journal of Medicine, I questioned what do we expect our students to learn. The same question came to my mind again reading the May issue. I can’t remember learning or have forgotten about Kimura’s disease, Catamenial Haemoptysis, the “hot nose” sign in brain death, and Lady Windemere syndrome.

As teachers we are not meaningless
In our book, the Eight Roles of the Medical Teacher, Pat Lilley and I repeatedly asked the question “What would your students miss if you were not there to help them?”. The current situation with no face-to-face teaching gives a poignancy to the question. In the Times Higher Education (30th April 2020) Robert Zaretsky writes “I fear that my teaching has gone virtually meaningless as I struggle with my online classes. I miss most the sense of meaningful essential activity. Take the teacher out of the physical classroom and you take away the reason for professional being. When I gaze at the stack of boxes on my screen that frame the faces of my students I don’t have the impression that I am leading a seminar. Instead I have the impression that I am being dealt tarot cards. And they foretell a future in which I may never recover the sense of being professionally essential”. How can we develop and maintain our professional being while engaging with online teaching?

Motivation
I have expressed concern in previous blogs that we have not paid student motivation the attention that it deserves. A fascinating animated sequence highlights what is known about motivation, including some aspects that are counter intuitive. It is well worth looking at this video clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

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