Thinking about formality in education. What purpose it serves, what effects it has.
In higher ed, especially postgraduate, very formal teaching seems out of place to me. It reinforces hierarchies, it imposes control. Don't we want to break those down in HE? Isn't that an important difference between education and training?
Don't we want students to have a say not in not only the product of their learning but also the process? Isn't that how they go beyond learning "stuff" to learning how to learn?
Yes, the in/formal border seems blurrier online, and that has its challenges. But, crucially, informal is not the same as unscheduled or unplanned. You can plan for informal sessions.
I want teachers to recognise the value of informal learning outside of scheduled sessions, but also of allowing scheduled sessions to be more informal. It's not just a style issue for me, it's a value. It says come and be yourself and help us shape the environment and culture.
Informal doesn't mean no rules or etiquette. To me, it's a permission to relax, to not get bogged down in specific ways of doing things. To focus teaching on the greater purpose, not the mechanics.
Maybe we need to loosen up in order to be inclusive? To accept that people have different ways of being present and engaged? That you, the teacher, might also learn from your students?