2017年11月22日 11 22, 2017 EVENT REPORT TALK workshops
Being an academic: What am I doing this for again? (Dr. James Arvanitakis, Western Sydney University)
17:00 - 18:30
Komaba Campus, The University of Tokyo
Being an academic:
What am I doing this for again?
Professor James Arvanitakis has been awarded the Australian Prime Minister’s Australian University Teacher of the Year. He gained this prestigious recognition, through an impressive track record of implementing innovative and alternative teaching methods. His tutorials integrate open phone lines allowing students to text-in questions as well as flash mob dances to explain chaos theory.
In this workshop James, will discuss the need to innovate teaching, enhancing the quality of learning and teaching in Higher Education and how we can find the nexus between research, community engagement and teaching.
Report by Yoko Mori (Globalization Office)
First, as an introductory phase, we were asked to talk about what we enjoy the most about our work, whether it be doing research, studying, teaching etc. The audience came up with answers such as “interaction with students” and “teaching things you like”. The purpose of this, according to Prof. Arvanitakis, was to remind ourselves of why we became educators, and why we love our work. When Prof. Arvanitakis won the prestigious award for the Australian Prime Minister’s Australian University Teacher of the Year and was asked the secret of what a good teacher was, his answer was firm, “You have to want to be there!”
Prof. Arvanitakis shared his experience of his first semester as an academic by his having gone through five emotions every day, feeling like: 1) as if he were a fraud 2) as if he were not good at writing 3) as if he were clueless (referring to a ‘smart person syndrome’) 4) questioning whether this was what he really wanted to do 5) he could always go back to banking/ living with his parents. In regard to this, he mentioned that as an international trend, about 50% of PhD students graduating do not go into academia, but enter government/non-government organizations, take up entrepreneurial roles or go into private corporations and so on. The broader issue mentioned was that, in fact, PhD students who don’t make into academia feel like a failure. So, Prof. Arvanitakis’ assertion was that there has to be a cultural change among the students, and as academics, we have to try to explain to them that there’s change in the market place, and that the market forces are actually re-shaping academia as well.
It was also mentioned that in Australia, the government is trying to promote such change by promoting exchange of experiences between academia and industry. Moreover, the tendency in Australia of research being considered more highly than teaching was mentioned as well.
Besides, another example of a recent government involvement in academia was that of the Indonesian government where it declared all its universities to climb 10 places in ranking in the next four years, by funding 5,000 PhD scholarships.
According to Prof. Arvanitakis, a recent study that analysed job descriptions for junior academic posts, has found a trend that requires early career academics to be multitasking, multitalented 'superheroes' if they want to get a job. In order to gain their initial position in academia, a candidate's ability to simply balance teaching and research is indeed, no longer enough.
Next, we were asked to discuss about what change in our educational institute we see change? One of the changes shared was that in Japan, the government is trying to increase the number of PhD students to go onto non-academic areas; however, apart from the science majors, the number of such places is not enough, and there exists, in fact, a mismatch between the government’s policy and the positions available for non-science PhD students. Prof. Arvanitakis mentioned that in his university, they do courses to introduce students to various funding sources and information, and if such changes were to happen, he stated that specific strategy is indeed needed.
Lastly, amidst the eagerness by the audience to listen to more, Prof. Arvanitakis wrapped his workshop by presenting the strategy he employs with his colleagues to stay focused on why he has become an academic. The following six strategies are indeed very insightful and very much worth keeping in our minds!
1) Plan your day/ week/ month/ year.
→Write your “Out of Office” email effectively. (An excellent example on the powerpoint.)
Take five minutes to write on what you would like to work on.
→Exchange your ideas of research project with someone else.
3) Be resilient!
→Don’t take rejections of papers etc. personally. Publish about your teaching!
4) Learn to say no.
→Have a list of acceptance criteria to decide on what you will accept.
In Prof. Arvanitakis’ case: a) Meaningful to him b)Enjoyable c)New: Something that he has never done before. d)Helpful for those who are important to him.
5) Remember the communities of support.
6) Keep your sense of humour!