One perspective on the state of higher education

The following post was sent to me by a colleague who had found it by way of a Google alert for electronic portfolio. The post is apparently from a faculty member, although the author is anonymous. While I didn’t agree with everything the author wrote and find the tone rather antagonistic, many of the arguments (stripped of their vitriol) spoke to me as I struggle with where higher education is today and where it needs to go to better serve the needs of our learners as opposed to simply continuing the aged paradigms of a time long gone.

The author recognizes that there is blame to share, beginning with the trustees and continuing through the administrative ranks. But who does the author feels is at the root of the problem?

I blame most of all the professoriate.  This is who has let me and the world’s entire educational enterprise down.  They are supposed to be intelligent and wise and to know better.  In the classroom, they act like they know it all, so why aren’t they actualizing that comprehensive vision outside the classroom?

The post is lengthy and can be found in its entirety here. But I’ve culled out some of the nuggets that held meaning for me:

The information revolution will not eliminate the teacher, merely liberate him to become a better teacher.  The only cost to the teacher will be preparation.  She must become fit to teach, able to use the wonderful new tools that are transforming our discipline.

People need high touch as much as they do high tech.  They always will.  While computers will continue to get better and better at freeing the classroom teacher from the routine elements of instruction, they will never be able to inspire.

Teachers must abandon their role as the definitive source of information and become facilitators instead.  Their new role is not to instruct but to guide discovery.

The whole purpose of the teacher is not to posture as an authority but
to share knowledge and understanding, to empower students.

All organizations, all humans , are resistant to change.  Our teachers teach the way they are taught, because that is what they know.  We cling to what is safe and familiar.

As much as I found the piece engaging, in as much as it echoes some of my own personal beliefs about the state of the educational machine. However, given my current advocacy for digital literacy and critical analysis in the age of Google, I wanted to apply a bit of triangulation to assess bias and authority. As I did, a couple of things stood out and concern me about how this piece would be received by others.

  1. The author is anonymous. Although the author espouses a desire for educational reform, civil discourse, etc. the choice of anonymity seems to me contradictory. While I would like to believe that this was written by a peer to the professoriate that he rails against, the lack of background diminishes the argument. The About page presents an almost farce-like face to the blog.
  2. In reading the authors earlier posts, while they are certainly thought provoking, the tone and language suggests a biased perspective as opposed to a global one. 

But even without the external validation, and although as I stated earlier I didn’t necessarily agree with everything the author wrote, much of the perspective centering around the evolving nature of information, knowledge and learning has a ring of currency and truth.

[tags]education, highered, college, university, professor [/tags]

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