10 October, 2007
It’s always amazing the diversity of content on the internet. All human life is there and not a little low life as well. Recently I had the good fortune to stumble on this. http://youtube.com/ucberkeley Which set me thinking.
I propose a lottery funded National Endowment for Education. It could use online voting amongst students and pupils to find the best lecturers and teachers in the land. Then it would go and video their lecturers and classes and make them freely available on the net and it should also be worth at least a spinal point on the pay scale.
I think the best way to pay for this would be to use lottery money rather than taking it from existing education budgets and I think it would command public support far more than some lottery projects. The simple fact is not everybody is going to go a great university. Indeed more than half the country wont go at all and worldwide university education is an unrealistic dream for billions as we haven’t even reached universal primary education but today we have the technology so that many more people can benefit from the finest pedagogic influences. All we need now is the drive to make it happen.
Such a scheme could also be used to increase the prestige of teaching amongst an academic establishment where research is the be all and end all of climbing the ivory tower.Now there are National teaching awards already but those should be extended so that excellent university teaching can be properly recognised. We should show that there is great teaching in our universities and just because a subject may be complex doesn’t mean that it can’t be rewarding.
I was brought up on the Royal Institution Christmas lectures so I see no reason why science can’t be communicated to a wider audience and if we can do astrophysics then why not a whole range of other subjects?Key to this is going to be high production values and there should also be some money to advertise it as well. The end result would be a massive treasure trove available to all for free, whether from the UK or from the remotest corners of the globe. If the exchange of knowledge is not a worthy human endeavour which we should be doing our upmost to support then we will have lost a part of ourselves which makes us who we are.