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robertogreco : generaleducation   4

Are we overthinking general education? – Jonathan D. Becker, J.D., Ph.D.
"Many colleges and universities are trying to figure out new ways to tackle general education requirements. My own employer, VCU, has been undergoing an effort “to re-imagine our general education curriculum.” The proposed framework that my VCU colleagues came up with isn’t bad, but it still feels like picking courses out of individual boxes and checking boxes to complete a checklist. It feels like what happens when universities try to be innovative and break out of boxes, but turf wars ensue and departments dig in their heels. The result is an overwrought compromise that doesn’t serve anyone particularly well.

Here is something I wrote on Twitter back in 2015.

[embedded tweet:
@gsiemens I seriously want to teach a course where all we do is read and discuss @brainpicker and @Longreads.

Imagine this learning experience: 1 faculty member with 20-25 students just reading and discussing the Longreads Weekly Top 5. They’d meet once a week, in a meeting room or a coffee shop or outside on a lawn or in the forest; it doesn’t matter. And they’d just talk about what they learned. And maybe they’d blog about it so they could expand their discussion beyond the designated class time and space and could get others outside the class to weigh in. That’s it; that’s the whole instructional design. No predetermined curriculum; very little by way of planning. Learning outcomes? How about curiosity, wonder, critical thinking? Those are your “learning outcomes.” I’d bet students would learn more by reading and deeply discussing those 5 articles each week than they would in most other tightly-designed, pre-packaged curriculum-driven course.

I would also love to involve students in a learning experience built around food shows like Alton Brown’s Good Eats. Seriously. Watch just the first few minutes of this episode. In just the first 3+ minutes, we get history (information about the Ottoman Empire), science (cooking and surface area), and math (computing surface area). In a show about kabobs.

[embedded video: "Good Eats S09E2 Dis-Kabob-Ulated" ]

What if general education was more like this? What if students read Longreads and watched episodes of Good Eats as part of an effort around interdisciplinary studies?

And then there’s Anthony Bourdain. To me, Parts Unknown was, at its heart, educational media.

I’m not from West Virginia like Craig Calcaterra (see below) is. But, I spent a lot of time in that state doing field research at the end of the 20th century. When I watched the episode of Parts Unknown that Calcaterra shares, I felt like Bourdain had really captured what I had come to know about the state and then some. Watch the episode and tell me that you didn’t learn a ton. The way Bourdain juxtaposes New York City and his fellow New Yorkers with the “existential enemy” in West Virginia is classic Bourdain."

[embedded tweet:
Anthony Bourdain went to West Virginia last year. In one hour he did way better capturing my home state than 1,000 poverty porn tourist journalists with pre-written stories parachuting in from coastal publications have ever done.

Parts Unknown is an interdisciplinary curriculum. It is about culture, food, history, politics, economics, etc. It’s about people.

[embedded tweet:
Anthony Bourdain had one of the only shows on tv that tried with all its might to teach Americans not to be scared of other people.

And isn’t that what general education is?

Replace the word “travel” with the word “learning” in the following quote from Anthony Bourdain.

[embedded tweet:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you... You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” — Anthony Bourdain #RIP

Maybe we’re overthinking general education in higher education. Probably, in fact.
jonbecker  education  generaleducation  anthonybourdain  2018  interdisciplinary  learning  travel  sharing  ideas  unschooling  deschooling  cv  culture  exploration  conversation  longreads  lcproject  openstudioproject  howweteach  howwelearn 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Are the Humanities in Crisis? - To the Point on KCRW 89.9 FM | Internet Public Radio Station Streaming Live Independent Music & NPR News Online from Los Angeles, CA
Half as many college students major in the humanities as did 50 years ago. Is this cause for concern? What's college for? Guest host Barbara Bogaev looks at what's at stake when higher education becomes more career focused and fewer students study the humanities. Also, a  new court decision calls NSA surveillance legal, and more men on the job are taking advantage of paternity leave. It turns out the time off for men can have far-reaching benefits for women, including helping to close the gender pay gap and shatter the glass ceiling.

Are the Humanities in Crisis? (1:07PM)
Only about 12% of all college students major in the humanities, a big change from just 50 years ago, when there were twice as many. Only about 7% major in subjects like English, Music or Art. The cost of college and concerns about employment are funneling more students into business and technology degrees, and we certainly need engineers, scientists and blue collar laborers, but at what price to American culture? Are we raising a generation of Americans that doesn't know enough about the humanities? What does it take to create a well-rounded society? What's at stake in education and society when our curricula become more career-focused and less aimed at creating well-rounded individuals?

Anthony Carnevale: Georgetown University
Heidi Tworek: Harvard University, @HeidiTworek
Lee Siegel: writer and author
Gary Gutting: University of Notre Dame

Tworek on the real reason the humanities are in crisis

Siegel on who ruined the humanities

Siegel on whether literature should be useful

Gutting on the real humanities crisis "
humanities  highered  highereducation  2013  anthonycarnevale  heiditworek  leesiegel  garygutting  colleges  universities  employment  history  arts  education  society  generalists  literature  whauden  barbarabogaev  paternityleave  parenting  stem  economics  curriculum  generaleducation  us 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Art Teaching for a New Age - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
[NB: Tagging this one Black Mountain College and BMC, not because it is references in the text, but that it reminds me of BMC.]

[Also related, in my mind: and ]

"The technological changes we are witnessing will not threaten conceptual rigor or craft, nor will the ease of expression and communication make art obsolete. But these shifts are changing what we mean by art making and what counts as meaningful, crafted expression. To say so is not to judge the quality of that expression or to lament the rise of vulgarity or the lowering of standards. It is simply to observe that this democratization of expression will alter fundamentally how students—aspiring artists—think about art, its meaning and purpose, and the ways in which it is made.

These shifts will also change the professions for which educational institutions like mine prepare students. After all, if technology becomes smart enough to make design decisions, then designers could increasingly become technicians, operators of machines instead of creative professionals. But the more profound—and less visible—impact will be on how students think about their creative pursuits.

We cannot say with certainty what that impact will be. The first generation of so-called digital natives is reaching college only now; the environment they grew up in—which seemed so radical and new to many of us just a decade and a half ago—is already a punchline. Soon it will be an antiquated joke that doesn't even make sense anymore. Remember AOL? Remember plugging in to access the Net? Today's students don't.

They arrive at college having shot and edited video, manipulated photographs, recorded music—or at least sampled and remixed someone else's—designed or assembled animated characters and even virtual environments, and "painted" digital images—all using technologies readily available at home or even in their pocket. The next generation of students will have designed and printed three-dimensional images, customized consumer products, perhaps "rapid-prototyped" new products—I can't imagine what else.

Students today are not simply bombarded by images, consuming them in great gulps, as previous generations did; they are making the environments they inhabit, and making meaningful connections among images, stories, mythologies, and value systems. They are creative and creating.

But their notion of what it means to create is different from ours. It's something one does to communicate with others, to participate in social networks, to entertain oneself. Making things—images, objects, stories—is mundane for these students, not sacred. It's a component of everyday experience, woven tightly into the fabric of daily life.

So what is the task of arts educators? Is it to disabuse these young people of what we think are their misconceptions? Is it to inculcate in them an understanding of the "proper" way to create, to make art or entertainment? Is it to sort out the truly artistic from the great mass of creative chatterers—and to initiate them into some sacred tradition?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Or maybe the task of the educator is to help them develop judgment, to help them to see that creating, which they do instinctively, almost unconsciously, is a way of learning, of knowing, of making arguments and observations, of affecting and transforming their environment. And perhaps that's not so very different from what we do now.

We do it now, though, in the context of a curriculum and institutional histories oriented toward specific professional training and preparation. We seek to develop in students the critical faculties needed to thrive in clearly defined professions. But in the future, we may have to rethink our purpose and objectives. We may have to reimagine our curricula, recast the bachelor-of-fine-arts degree as a generalist—not professional—degree.

In a media-saturated culture in which everyone is both maker and consumer of images, products, sounds, and immersive experiences like games, and in which professional opportunities are more likely to be invented or discovered than pursued, maybe the B.F.A. is the most appropriate general-education experience, not just for aspiring artists and designers but for everyone.

That poses challenges for arts educators. We are good at equipping students who are already interested in careers in art and design with the skills and judgment necessary to succeed in artistic fields and creative professions that are still reasonably well defined. We are less good at educating them broadly, at equipping them to use their visual acuity, design sensibility, and experience as makers to solve the problems—alone or in collaboration with others—that the next generation of creative professionals may be called on to solve. These will be complex problems that cross the boundaries of traditional disciplines, methodologies, and skill sets—ranging from new fields like data visualization, which draws on graphic design, statistical analysis, and interaction design, to traditional challenges like brand development, which increasingly reaches beyond logos on letterhead to products and environments.

To do that, arts colleges would have to reorganize their curricula and their pedagogy. Teaching might come to look a lot more like what we now call mentorship or advising. Rather than assume that young people know what they want to do and that we know how to prepare them to do it, we would have to help them to explore their interests and aspirations and work with them to create an educational experience that meets their needs.

Curricula would not be configured as linear, progressive pathways of traditional semester-long courses, but would consist of components, such as short workshops, online courses, intensive tutorials, and so forth. Students would pick and choose among components, arranging and rearranging them according to what they need at a particular moment. Have a problem that requires that you use a particular software program? Go learn it, to solve that problem or complete that project. Want to pursue a traditional illustration-training program? Take multiple drawing and painting studios.

Linking all of this together would not be a traditional liberal-arts curriculum but what one faculty member at the University of the Arts has called a liberal art curriculum—one focused on design as problem solving, on artistic expression as the articulation and interrogation of ideas. Instead of an arts-and-sciences core curriculum separate and disconnected from studio instruction, we would build a new core that integrates the studio and the seminar room, that envisions making and thinking not as distinct approaches but as a dynamic conversation.

This fantasy of an alternative arts education—which resembles experiments that other educators have attempted in the past—begins to veer into utopianism, though, and a vague utopianism at that. It would be impossible to administer and to offer to students cost-effectively. And most students would probably find it more perplexing than liberating.

But I see an urgent need for new models that respond to the changing conditions affecting higher education—models that can adapt to conditions that are in constant flux and to an emerging sensibility among young people that is more entrepreneurial, flexible, and alert to change than our curricula are designed to accommodate.

We need an educational structure that takes instability and unpredictability as its starting point, its fundamental assumption. If a university is not made up of stable, enduring structures arranged linearly or hierarchically—schools, departments, majors, minors—but rather is made up of components that can be used or deployed according to demand and need, then invention instead of convention becomes the governing institutional dynamic."
arteducation  art  education  expression  artisticexpression  internet  web  making  unpredictability  uncertainty  liberalarts  generalists  specialists  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  multimedia  lcproject  tcsnmy  tcsnmy8  ncmideas  openstudioproject  2013  seanbuffington  teaching  learning  criticalthinking  problemsolving  communication  bfa  mfa  highered  highereducation  generaleducation  curriculum  altgdp  design  craft  internetage  medialiteracy  media  newmedia  rapidprototyping  projectbasedlearning  bmc  blackmountaincollege  pbl 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Watering the Roots of Knowledge Through Collaborative Learning - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"These problematic aspects of the model are symptoms of its first major fault, a violation of the wisdom of Confucius: "Tell me, and I will forget; show me, and I will remember; involve me, and I will understand." I have demonstrated this fault directly. One fall at Columbia University, I had the usual 80-student class of bright, ambitious undergraduates fulfilling their science requirement by taking my lecture course on the solar system. Most attended the lectures, and, mostly, they paid attention (I do not use PowerPoint). They worked through long quantitative problem sets, took biweekly quizzes, and performed well on the midterm and final exams. They then went home for Christmas and on to the spring semester.

The following September, I gathered most of them again and administered a test on some of the material we had covered. I gave the same test to my new class before my first lecture. The results were statistically indistinguishable. So much for pouring knowledge from the full container to the empty ones—it leaks out.

The second major fault of the current educational model is that learning is an isolated activity. Yes, we bring a number of students together to form a "class," but then we do everything possible to isolate students from each other: "No talking in class"; "Please leave two seats between each person for this exam"; "Do all your own work." We desocialize learning, separating it from the periods of normal human interaction we call dorm-room bull sessions.

The third misplaced pillar of educational practice is competition and its accompanying correlate, quantitative measurement. Standardized tests proliferate; grade-point averages are calculated to four significant figures. We pretend that these numbers measure learning and use them to award scholarships, sort professional-school applicants, and, sadly, evaluate self-worth. And we are surprised that cheating—the goal of which is to get a higher score—is widespread. If a group of students works together effectively and efficiently to solve a hard problem, in school this is called cheating. In life, as the British educator Sir Ken Robinson notes, it's called collaboration, a valued asset in most real-world settings."

"General education is often thought of as a means to expose students to a broad range of "essential" knowledge and to provide a historical context for the culture in which they live. These are valid, but insufficient, goals. The purpose of general education should be to produce graduates who are skilled in communication, imbued with quantitative reasoning skills, instinctively collaborative, inherently transdisciplinary in their approach to problems, and engaged in their local and global communities—broadly educated individuals with an informed perspective on the problems of the 21st century and the integrative abilities to solve them."
davidhelfand  questuniversity  2013  via:tealtan  education  design  curriculum  academia  highereducation  highered  tcsnmy  cv  teaching  learning  unschooling  blockprograms  collaboration  deschooling  measurement  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  social  isolation  comparison  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  coloradocollege  flexibility  depth  depthoverbreadth  generalists  generaleducation  adaptability  shrequest1 
july 2013 by robertogreco

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