He is actually right. A professor may be an expert in his or her chosen field, may be incredibly knowledgeable and have a genuine desire to help students, but nonetheless still be unable to convey the very basic bite sized ‘hooks’ that every students needs to get an initial handle on a subject.
I’m doing a postgraduate degree at the moment and have sat and listened to teachers waffle and digress and waste valuable time because they can’t organise and present the information in an accessible and engaging manner. Universities are full of experts who simply have no clue how to convey the information to people who are relative beginners in the subject.
Interesting that the very best lecturer in the course I’m doing has only been qualified in the area for 4 years, and yet is uniformly acknowledged by students to be about ten times better at actually teaching you something than the far more senior people in the department to whom she defers. She is innately talented at conveying information and has a natural ease in front of a class; it is not necessary she be the foremost expert but just be competent enough in the area to teach us the bones of the subject - and she does this very, very well.
Universities have got this all wrong. Focus less on paying lots of money for experts to pump out research and a little more on implementing a ‘teach the teachers’ program, or simply hiring people who are good with other people. Survey university students in every western country and you will find a clear majority of students who will tell you that many of their professors are actually crap at teaching other people.” —a comment that I think I agree with, on this Guardian article. (via lexcanroar)