In Class at Goldsmiths
We joke a lot about classroom culture at Goldsmiths because comparatively for most of us, it’s rather laid back. Most seminar sessions start by asking “did anybody do the readings?” to which the professor receives a couple of scattered nods and many blank stares. But fortunately, this rarely stops us from having a successful discussion. Despite the fact that the students aren’t extremely concerned with following the syllabus word for word, I have found that they are quite knowledgeable, and always are able to engage in an appropriate and productive discussion. Someone mentioned this is because of A levels, where students focus on an area of academic interest before university. Also, I find my classmates are always acutely aware of relevant current events, which professors take just as seriously as doing the coursework.
I find the student-teacher relationship very interesting, though. Most of the time, professors act very formally, don’t really make themselves available for informal discussion before or after class. Once a fellow visiting student asked a tutor a casual personal question just after class and the tutor was rather taken aback. However, teachers are always available for tutorial sessions, booked though their office for a brief meeting to discuss coursework.
Other than tutorials, we have lecture and seminar once per week for each class. First, there is an hour long lecture where new material is introduced, and then we split up into smaller groups for seminar. This system is really nice, I find. It allows for a theoretical understanding of the material, and then a group discussion where we can talk about things we didn’t understand. I always feel like all my bases are covered this way, where the material is delivered and then decoded. It also gives plenty of time for sightseeing in the city!