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, it is possible to assess his relevance for to-day’s UK universities. While my ideas in some way may go beyond Humboldt’s and in some ways fall short of the great man, they are firmly based on his thinking, which of course went beyond what eventually emerged from it in the German university of the 19th century. Humboldt’s astonishing memorandum of 1810 (English translation: Humboldt 1970) for the new University of Berlin was profound and amazingly far sighted, and I firmly believe that it still represents a blue print – and it happens to be my blue print - for the best type of university for the 21st century. It ought to be remembered that Humboldt’s ideas originated in the situation that arose from Prussia’s huge defeat by Napoleon in 1806, and that they were designed to be in the service of the State, a concept not unknown in 21st century Britain. Neither Humboldt nor whoever happens to be our current Minister responsible for universities were interested in an otherworldly university, but it was Humboldt who realised that a university that had no other objectives than to serve the short term objectives of the state would fail. The huge difference between the two approaches results from this. [It is worth noting that the contemporary Napoleonic system of the écoles superieures has found a good deal less resonance in the world over the following two centuries.] However, to appreciate the fundamental basis of the Humboldtian university requires an understanding of the very German concept of ‘Wissenschaft’ (there can be no perfect translation of this heavily culture laden concept and Lydia and I differ slightly regarding the best translation, in our respective German and Anglo–Saxon milieus; from my viewpoint it is arguably best translated as ‘scholarship’ as a noun, and ‘wissenschaftlich’ as ‘scholarly’ as an adjective.). The major dichotomy in Humboldt’s thinking then turns out not between either research and teaching or between teachers and students; it is between university and school and it is best represented through the slogan ‘Bildung durch Wissenschaft’ or ‘Learning based on Scholarship’. He postulates – and I am certain that he would stand by this to this day - that the university – in contrast to school – treats scholarship always in terms of not yet completely solved problems whether in research or teaching, while school is concerned essentially with agreed and accepted knowledge. The consequence, as he says in the most thought provoking sentence of his memorandum, is that in universities “the teacher is then not there for the sake of the student, but both have their justification in the service of scholarship”. This principle applies to both research and teaching, since both should be concerned with not yet completely solved problems. It is this principle - which, I am sure, is Humboldt’s - which has been guiding university research for the past 200 years, but which has rarely if ever been put into practice in teaching until very recently in the UK. Indeed, in practice, a general unity of research and teaching has not been established anywhere. Research became firmly established on its own in the 19th century, while teaching remained comparatively unaffected, except in the advanced German ‘Seminar’ (Paulsen 1908), which at its best represented the unity of teachers and learners, in contrast to the Socratic Oxbridge tutorial (Palfreyman 2001), in which tutor and student have very different hierarchical roles from each other . Incidentally, the perception that, in a golden past, it was an intellectual elite - the ‘best’ 5% of the population - who went to university
Sheffield and Reading. von (1970). B. employers. first in English literature through a seminal paper by Hutchings and O’Rourke (2002) and then to a variety of disciplines in the current programmes of the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Manchester. OxCHEPS. ch. of whom of course only a fraction were top students. as developed for ‘elitist’ universities (say up to 5% of the population. ‘Introducing Enquiry-Based Teaching Methods in Literary Studies’. S. EBL is an approach to teaching and learning and. . pp. Hutchings. first at MIT and more recently at eg Imperial College. and O’Rourke. This changed when it was extended into Enquiry Based Learning (EBL). while it will certainly take different forms in different disciplines. (2002). Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press. ‘The German Universities and University Study’. ‘The Enquiring University’. which until the advent of performance indicators and mistaken forms of quality assurance used to be respectable in schools. and Problem Based Learning. particularly Medicine and Engineering. while the rest attended crammers. but at least the possibility exists. first at MacMaster and more recently at Maastricht and a number of UK and US universities.is quite wrong. Palfreyman. which mostly they were not and Problem Based Learning (PBL) has been confined essentially to applied disciplines. who presumably recognised the continuing importance although different role of the teacher. Minerva 8. Green and Co. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 1. not Lao Tse. An attempt to extend the Humboldtian concept to all . all students are to be fairly treated but universities are expected in addition to meet external demands of governments. K.or at least the majority – of students became possible through the development of such programmes as the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). ‘The Oxford Tutorial: ‘Thanks you taught me how to think’. F. (ed. The extent to which this may be possible or indeed desirable is too early to tell. it was the richest 5% and the correlation between ability and wealth has always been quite low. Enquiry Based Learning (Hutchings and O’Rourke 2002) will have to live in a world where the student numbers approach 50% of the population. but it is the basis of all student centred learning Humboldt. Surrey.) (2001). and its main but very radical change from university tradition is that it puts the student and not the teacher in the driving seat. In this. II. did not complete or finished up – eg Lord Boyle. pp.. ‘On the spirit and organisational framework of intellectual institutions in Berlin’.with the Oxford ‘Fourth’). I will probably be accused of being hopelessly idealistic – or worse – but I do not think that I am. Rowland (2006). D. who later became Minister of Education and a University Vice-Chancellor . the ‘market’ etc. In contrast to Humboldt’s ideas. London: Longmans.6. (1908). It is in the tradition of ‘discovery learning’.’ It was of course the students who said this. 242 – 267. for it was Lao Tse who said that ‘of the best teachers the students say that “we did it all ourselves”. W. However. it is an approach to teaching and learning which in principle is applicable to all disciplines (see also Rowland 2006). 73 – 83. Paulsen. it is in a tradition much older than Humboldt. UROP was liable to treat students as if they were actual researchers.