SansBlogue  
Thursday, March 29, 2007
  Education for a change!
Mark Nichols the E-BCNZer links to a fascinating and infuriating YouTube video. Which, since it was fascinating as well as infuriating (mainly because I wanted footnotes, so I could find out more or check up on their "facts") I will link here:

Now, there is much (If only it had footnotes!) that you or I might argue with. There is also much in the clip that looks strikingly different when viewed from NZ rather than USA. And we could, and perhaps should, argue for hours if this kind of "video" was the best format for the information. Where it seems to me there is no room for discussion is that we are educating students for change.

Well we aren't... Actually we are educating them for the 1990s (an average figure taking into account that we do, a little, expose them to 21st century ways of doing things, but that on the other hand we mainly expose them to traditional ways!), but, since the world in which they will live, work and share their learning, the world they will live in will have changed hugely almost before they graduate... We should be educating for change.

Education though is past focused. It repackages knowledge and understanding already gained. Theological education invites students to read books that summarise and restate previously acquired understanding. Inevitably theology, of all disciplines is past focused. Yet, there is something significant in the traditional claim that degree level education should be taught by active researchers. Because then it will also have a future edge... Education for a change!

Incidentally, students should also be encouraged to explore and research for themselves. Because that will prepare them to remain educated for the next decades of their lives.

But we don't. At just the period when future-focused, research-driven education is more vitally necessary than ever before, we are busy "dumbing down". The rise of distance learning (which I welcome and enjoy) has led to a mere packaging of information and ideas, which the student can "learn". (OK I know, we do try - quite hard sometimes - to do more, but in practice we seldom really achieve an exploratory future focus in our teaching.) And, the onsite students "benefit" too, because they also increasingly get these bite-sized, prepackaged chunks of information and ideas, rather than being stimulated to learn.

And "the culture" does not help, students (with growing debt burdens) need "qualifications", so they focus on passing courses. But a focus on passing courses hampers education for a change!

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