For the next fortnight, I am teaching English at one of the many summer schools which take place in Oxford and other university cities in the UK. In putting together my course for five 17-18 year olds who want to learn more about literary studies at a university level, I’ll be making use of some of resources available on Great Writers Inspire.
As in any kind of teaching, my summer school students will benefit from the high standard of the resources. I hope that in using them these young people will appreciate the variety of perspectives they can introduce. That these are available in a variety of digital formats will hopefully reinforce that literary studies is a vibrant 21st century academic discipline which is not confined to dusty library volumes. In terms of promoting good academic practice, I’ll be impressing on them the importance of judging the credibility of their online sources, and, as with literature, not to accept anything unquestioningly.
Clearly there are many benefits for both students and tutors, but there are some limitations too. In summer school teaching especially, time is of the essence since there are relatively few hours with the students and usually a lot of ground to cover. Their individual research time is also limited as their schedules pack in a variety of other improving activities. With these time constraints, the tutor has to carefully weigh up the benefits of a podcast lecture or panel discussion against less reflective practical teaching opportunities.
Overall, though, the dynamism which open access resources such as those curated by Great Writers Inspire can bring to the classroom environment means that I think they will really add to my own teaching. The chance to share the expertise of a multitude of world-leading literary experts through my laptop is one not to be passed up. And, when the students are (hopefully) armed with new critical skills, are enthused and academically curious, there are enough resources available in one place that they can easily access and assess them under their own steam.
During my summer school course I will be using: