Hey you! They're calling you Tinkerbell! What are you going to do about it?
Keywords:learning development pedagogy, professional status, impact, scholarly debate, critique
Critiques and polemics calling for ‘doing away with study skills’ as an ineffectual ‘Tinkerbell’ mirage that plays into neoliberal, deficit, anti-academic agendas have appeared both in academic scholarship and the higher education press (see, for example, Richards and Pilcher, 2021, 2023; Wingate, 2006). Often originating from outside the learning development community, misinformed and misdirected, these criticisms gain traction with senior leadership and academic colleagues, and cannot be ignored, avoided, or dismissed if we are to promote our ethos (and preserve our jobs). So nearly right in many ways, but for the wrong reasons, they come too close to the mark to shrug off. Yet there has been very little response—let alone rebuttal—from the learning development community, individually or collectively. Robust critique is fair and demands a reply: ‘rising above it’ is not a scholarly response. Any reluctance to engage in outward-facing debate is surely a problem given that there is so much at stake for students and for ourselves.
Are we going to let them talk about us like this?
- Are they right?
- Can you prove it?
- How will anyone know?
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