Letter: A lecturer's lot is far from a lazy one

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The Independent Online
Sir: Helen Winnifrith's mischievous charges ('Lessons for our lecturers', 23 June) against university arts lecturers, of term- time absenteeism and teaching standards sacrificed in favour of 'useless' research, are simply not true.

As to absenteeism, her view is at best an impression. Here is another. In my department, nine out of 10 of the permanent, full- time lecturers normally are in their offices from 9am (or 8.30) to at least 5pm most or all weekdays during term-time; at least four (including one professor) frequently work in the evenings and at weekends, too. My experience (after 12 years in the profession) is that this pattern is more normal than abnormal in so-called civic universities.

As to time spent on research, all good university lecturers recognise that teaching and research are complementary. The knowledge you acquire from your research irrigates your lectures and seminars and ensures that familiarity (ie teaching the same course repeatedly) does not breed contempt. This is vital for maintaining the lecturer's enthusiasm for his or her subject, a quality that students repeatedly single out as the hallmark of lively teaching.

Yours faithfully,

ANTONY SPAWFORTH

Department of Classics

University of Newcastle

Newcastle

24 June

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