I was sent a pre-publication copy of Cathy Davidson's new book The New Education recently, to review. Cathy is one of my favourite authors because she pulls no punches and writes in a style that challenges and encourages in equal measure. She is a doyen of the progressive education movement, and her ideas are far reaching and influential.

The strapline for Davidson's latest book is 'how to revolutionize the university to prepare students for a world in flux.' It's one that many, many academics can identify with across the globe, because higher education is generally in a state of inertia while the world flows by rapidly around it. No matter what innovations are created inside of the university around pedagogy, they rarely if ever seem to take root and spread across institutions.

Here are top 7 survival tips for working in higher education (or for that matter, any profession).

1. When I first started work, one wise old colleague told me that wherever I went, I should always carry a piece of paper around with me. It didn't matter what was on the paper. It could even be blank. He told me it would made people think I was busier than I actually was. He was fired.


As my colleagues at Plymouth Institute of Education make their way back to work, and I sit gazing, relaxed (and retired) from the sidelines, I have mixed emotions.

Asking a child what they want to be when they grow up can be a great conversation opener. They will be very honest with you about their aspirations, and tell you how they are going to become a police officer, train driver, nurse or scientist. But as they grow older, and they learn more about the world around them and their potential role within it, children may become a little more circumspect.

We are heading into the perfect storm. Students numbers are growing, and there aren't enough teachers.

For the second year in the UK, secondary (high) school numbers have grown, and it's expected that over the next 8 years there will be a 19% rise in these numbers, with over 600,000 additional students. The sudden increase in births from 2002 onwards is largely responsible for this trend, and this was an expected rise.

Most of the students starting university at the end of summer 2017 were born around the turn of the century. They will have no memories of the 20th century, which just happens to be the same century their lecturers were born and educated within. It's a sobering thought.

The class of 2020 may have expectations about learning which run counter to the ethos of the traditional university.

It is claimed that the 'digital birth' of a child is around 6 months. They first begin to appear online when they are on average 6 months old. This baby (6 weeks old at the time the picture was taken) seems to be accessing digital content using an iPad. But is he really? This is one of many evocative images of young children using technology that have been circulating on the web recently. It seems that children really 'get it' when they use technology.

How do you make an impact in the classroom? You can deploy all the latest shiny technologies you can get your hands on. You can introduce new, whizzy methods into the classroom, and continually invent new ways to engage students. You can pack your lessons full of content, activities, games and creative assessment. You can plaster your classroom walls with colourful posters and displays, and even invite guest speakers in to motivate your students.