Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘breaking the rules’

Why on Earth Do We Need Teacher Training?

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 28/04/2015 at 5:52 am

Adams Quote (for Steve)

I have had intriguing tidings from some of my final year learners recently.  They are currently engaged in their second semester of “school experience,” where they spend one day a week under the tutelage of their mentor educators in local high schools.  In theory they are supposed to watch their mentors in the first term, and gradually be allowed to assume responsibility for teaching their classes in the second.  In the end they are asked to teach one, perhaps two entire classes on their own.

 Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

The idea sounds a practical one – it’s often best to learn the rudiments of teaching from a professional.  In practice what has happened is this:  learners spend most of their time sitting at the back of the classroom watching their mentors undertake a series of repetitive exercises involving little or no language practice – gap-filling, cloze procedure and the like.  They are easy to mark and require the educator to undertake little or no extra-curricular activity.  It’s an easy way to pass the time in class.

Consequently many learners have complained of wasting their time on “school experience.” Not only do they have little or no involvement in classroom activity, but they are introduced to the jobsworth mentality in which educators do the minimum amount necessary to keep their learners amused and collect their salaries at the end of the week.  When the learners are given the space to teach their own classes, they are told to do the same gap-filling activities, as their mentors cannot be bothered to think up anything new.

 21C LEARNing Culture (TG ver 02 upgrade)

I am not in any way suggesting that this state of affairs prevails at every high school; I have encountered many enthusiastic educators willing to challenge existing approaches to pedagogy.  But what proves particularly disconcerting is that this jobsworth mentality is allowed to prevail at any institution.  It suggests that all the teacher training initiatives spearheaded by the British Council, the book publishers and other institutions have little or no influence on the way in which educators handle the day-to-day business of working with their learners.  Resources are spent to little effect – except, perhaps, to encourage institutions to spend more money on glossy textbooks and thereby increase author royalties.

Is there any possibility for change, or at least create the conditions for change?  Institutionally speaking, the prospect is a pessimistic one: many educators are so imbued with the jobsworth mentality that they perceive little or no reason to change their methods.  Even if they wanted to change, there is little or no incentive to do so.  Personal development assumes less significance than the monthly pay-check.  Even if individuals want to change, they will have to negotiate with their superiors, who might disagree with their views entirely.  Why rock the boat when things are going fine?

 Hocam will this be on the test

Perhaps the only workable solution is to begin from the ground up: to find ways outside the institution to set up initiatives dedicated not to teacher training per se, but to investigate methods of learning, both virtual as well as face-to-face.  This might require us to rethink the way institutions work – perhaps technology needs to assume a more important role in facilitating communication between educators and learners.  Much of the teacher training I’ve encountered has been fundamentally top-down in approach; follow the example of the trainer (like the mentor educator), and you too can learn how to work in class.  I’d favor a flipped approach, in which educators tried to listen to their learners and reshaped their classroom strategies accordingly.  Undergraduate learners could be made part of the collaborative process; the insights they have acquired in the three years of their university curricula might prove invaluable in creating new learning strategies.  While jobsworth educators are difficult to shift, there are still opportunities available to create new generations of educators with a genuine and lasting commitment to listening to and learning from their learners.  Who knows – even the learners might want to become educators in the future.

 Creativity (Einstein Quote ver 03)

Yet time is running out: frustrations increase.  My fourth-year learners have a disillusioned view of their chosen profession.  For them it is not a matter of learning about the way people think and react, but simply a matter of rehearsing time-honored drills practiced by their mentors.  Perhaps the teacher training institutions and the publishers need to rethink their approach to working with institutions; rather than trying to foist their products on their so-called ‘customers,’ they might be better advised to take a lengthy time out and listen to what people want, especially those at the lowest end of the pedagogical scale.  Otherwise we are simply reinventing an educational wheel which will very soon come off the axle that drives it.

Laurence Raw

Ankara, Turkey – 27 Apr. 2015

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For the Times…they are a-Changin’ (…still)!

In Adult Learners, Our Universities, Technology, The Paradigm Debate on 27/05/2013 at 10:28 am

Higher Education (Moe quote)

BUT, we do have a great many  “best practices”  because of this tradition…

8

This was one of my very first blog posts (back in February 2011) – way before I rediscovered my love of visual literacy (that’s why it has no images)!

I have had an ‘upgrade’ (or follow-up post) on me to-do-list for some time – but just wondered if the post has stood up to the ‘test of time’. I think it has…but looks better with a few images (and a few ‘red-hot’ links)…what do you thunk?

8

Dodo and change (Schleicher quote)

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A great example of the traditions Moe was talking about is the traditional “course-credit model” (developed circa 1890). Educational “bean-counters” love it as it allows them to calculate a cumulative GPA.

The fact that it tells us (and, more importantly, studentsnothing (really NOTHING!) about the conceptual development of LEARNers, the growth of intellectual abilities or the quality of LEARNing that takes place over time – is conveniently ignored.

Exploding Head (new ver)

8

The other thing I have often wondered is why – across just about every country on the planet (probably on a couple of others, too) – all lectures and classes seem to be around the same length (45-55 minutes). And, why so many different disciplines, so many specialisations, so many programmes – can have roughly the same number of lectures in a given semester.

Trust me – I’ve asked people these questions over and over.

Noone has been able to give me an answer – apart from “That’s just the way it is”….

8

Maybe, I’m a bit thick!

Shhot yourself in the head

Maybe, the university (we know and love) has a wee design flaw!

8

Here’s another one…why do we train PhD candidates only to do research, when we know most of them will be hired to “teach” our kids.

Teaching people “how to teach” (or at least helping them “understand how people learn”) would seem like a pretty good idea for say, a lecturer, yes?

Learning and Teaching (Cicero quote)

And, far superior to allowing university teaching practices to be built on “folklore” about what works in teaching and LEARNing…

…and certainly a lot better than lecturers simply “doing business” the way their own teachers taught them.

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Hey, I get the idea that the Academe, for many, exists for the purpose of the unfettered pursuit of truth and excellence through scholarship and research – I do, and I am also a fan of research (seriously)!

Expert Brains

I also get that it is only the opportunity to do research, and earn esteem from fellow researchers, that compensates for relatively poor salaries, and motivates talent to enter the academic profession.

8

But, I have just had to prepare a citation for an article I’m doing right now and it had TWELVE authors – meaning they all wrote about 400 words each (about the same number of words I have written up to this point for this blog post).

And, I know that all of these “esteemed publishers” will see very little professional advancement within the Academe as a result of their “teaching” (or “public service”).

Why so serious (inscription)

8

…it all does not seem “right” somehow

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Yeah, yeah…Tony’s needs to blow off some steam and have a rant! But it’s not just me that thinks that the Academe’s obsession with research might, just a teeny-weeny bit, be getting in the way of student LEARNing.

Lauren Pope, writing in 2006, offered this advice to parents and kids getting ready for college:

…for the undergraduate, the Ivies and their clones are scams. In those universities, you will be ignored. There are no rewards for teaching, so professors, famous or not, do little or none of it. If they do, you’ll only ever see them behind a lectern. In many of these schools you will never write a paper. Nearly half of your enormous classes will be taught by part-timers, many of whom can barely speak English.

And he was talking about the best universities on the planet.

Harvard (Eliot quote)

8

Guy Claxton also points out – this time talking about the UK:

As things stand, less than half of all young people go on to university, and many of those who do, now endure an assembly-line experience at least as passive and depersonalised as school.

Truth (mini ver 01)

I’m guessing more than a few lecturers would also agree with both Pope and Claxtonand me, too!

8

I know the Ivies, the Golden Triangle colleges of the UK and all the schools scrambling to get into the T.H.E’s Top 100 Universities List will come back with tales about the quality of their teacher-researchers and the wide range of citations their staff have been amassing this year (more often than not because they have been sending their “teaching assistants” into undergraduate classes so they can “publish”).

Lies (people and stats)

8

But, when we look through “the smoke and the mirrors” we see that the rankings are phoney, are easily manipulated and that many of the claims we hear are, in reality, nothing more than academic slight-of-hand.

As Pope notes again:

These damaging things are compiled by statisticians who can only measure input factors, many of which are totally irrelevant to education. They know nothing about what happens to young minds and souls in the four years of college. Some anonymous Canadian has said the American way of judging the quality of college by the grades and scores of the freshmen it selects is like judging the quality of a hospital by the health of the patients it admits. What happens during the stay is what counts.

Trust me – it is not only America and the UK that plays these games – try every country on the planet!

Canım EXAMOCRACY

Some of the best Turkish universities play the game, too – and are getting very good at it.

8

Those of us who love (or have “adopted” – as home) Turkey all know, deep down in our hearts (and because the World Bank tells us), that most public universities in Turkey have been developed as though they are or will be “research universities” (whatever that really means). This is despite the fact that the level of research is low at most institutions and the post-graduate population remains tiny – this is even true of the newer, more dynamic foundation (private) universities.

Granted there are a few “stars” in the Turkish Academe – but many other members of the Academe remain “little more than secondary schools” (Mızıkacı).

Lise 5

and ‘6’…and ‘7’…and ‘8’…and…

8

And, we know that our schools are doing little more than socialising Turkish children into the “ways of the examocracy” – while doing really well as “supply schools” for the “Dershane Culture”.

BUT, he says again, it all does not seem “right” somehow

8

Wouldn’t it be süper if the Academe could respond to a few of these issues – with more than “a bun-fight” any time we put them on the table?

Wouldn’t it be great if more of them committed to:

  • Making a difference in student lives by putting learning at the heart of what they do,
  • Promoting real learning by community building, purposeful engagement and encouragement of risk-taking on the part of all students and staff, and
  • Providing choice, widening interdisciplinary collaboration, and making sure they produce meaningful “value added” in every single student.

And then, did something about it.

Walk your talk

8

Wait a minute!

There are some people who are breaking the rules – perhaps a bit of competition might be the “nudge” the Academe has been waiting for:

Risk-taking (quotes)

8

KSRF’s Virtual University, the oldest learning community on the web, was set up in 1995 and brings together academics, professionals and practitioners to co-create the type of learning that has made happy customers out of their three million plus “students”.

Anyone can sign up for courses, teach their own course (or co-teach with others around the world), act as a learning mentor, and share-share-share…As well as leading the charge to promote “collaboration” over “competition” in the world of learning – they offer the kind of programmes people want and need – as well as ensuring that they offer learning experiences designed to produce educated, responsible and employable “graduates”.

The Khan Academy created quite a “storm” when it opened its “portal” in 2006. It is rumoured that the Academe put a “hit” on its creator – and he was only saved by the intervention of Bill Gates!Sal Khan, an ex-financial analyst (who did not have a PhD and had never taught), began delivering lectures from his “bedroom waredrobe” – and quickly became the most popular educator on YouTube.

Gates now describes him as “my favourite teacher”!

His motivation – “to deliver things the way I wish they were delivered to me”. In a way, his Academy is something of a “one-man protest” against what he sees as a “flawed educational system” – and in doing so he openly challenged the long-standing assumption that professional academics make the best teachers.

They do not. 

That “Oscar” goes to primary and ELT teachers!

It would be fair of you to ask – Is he the best teacher you are ever likely to see?

No.

But…..he is realhuman and flawed – and his students love him. They love learning with and next to him – why he even lets his students “correct” him and help him out!

They are engaged and passionate – half the battle.

BTW – his newer (2010 and 2011) videos are so much better. The other news is that he may be running for President soon – his campaign posters are ready!

Alain de Botton opened his School of Life in a little “shop”, just off Russell Square in London, some time back.

By all accounts he and his partners are doing pretty “brisk business”.

He has done this by working to create a new kind of “social enterprise” and you can pop in to take courses and attend lectures on all “things that matter” in life – relationshipsdeathworkchangeasking questionsthe future.

Their goal of producing learners ready, able and willing to leave their communities in better shape than they find them today is one we can relate to.

Besides…Aren’t all universities supposed to be “schools of life” and help students learn about this stuff?

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The Academe we have today, and its various sub-groups around the globe, was a “product of conscious design”.

Over time it has been reconstituted and upgraded – the last of these major upgrades took place over a hundred years ago and was engineered to rationalise the process of discovery (and created the discrete research disciplines we all know and love today).

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the PROBLEM (obs)

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The Academe still sees undergraduate learning as a secondary by-product of this knowledge creation – and by all accounts is still not delivering on its promises.

It is time for “real change” – Bob Dylan explains why:

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Dylan (a changin)

 

For our “sevgili inekler” (who tell me off for not citing my sources):

  • Anderson, C. W. (1993). Prescribing the life of the mind: an essay on the purpose of the university, the aims of liberal education, the competence of citizens, and the cultivation of practical reason. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Claxton, G. (2008). What’s the point of school? Oxford: Oneworld
  • Mızıkacı, F. (2006). Higher education in Turkey. UNESCO-CEPES. Monographs on Higher Education. UNESCO, Bucharest
  • Pope, L (2006). Colleges that change lives. (New York, Penguin)
  • Schleicher, A. (2006). The Economics of knowledge: Why education is key to Europe’s success. Lisbon Council Policy Brief, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2006). ISSN 2031-0943

Taking a LEARNing Perspective…

In Curriculum, Our Universities on 03/03/2012 at 8:51 am

Surfing the web a few days ago (my big, little girl tells me it’s not “cool” to use this collocation any more – what to do – I’m a “digital immigrant”…) – I came across this amazing TED video from artist and innovative designer Jae Rhim Lee.

In the video (which has to be one of the most “out there” on the TED siteJae Rhim Lee introduced her “mushroom death suit” (or, as she jokes, her “ninja PJs”) and the Infinity Burial Project – both imagineered to decompose a human body once we learn, grow and get off the planet!

 

OMG – I know you are all probably thinking that…Tony has totally lost the plot, finally! Hear me outhear me out, I sayYou know how I love my mushrooms…

 

What Jae Rhim Lee was really doing was (reallyTAKING an Environmental PERSPECTIVEshe said what she meant, she meant what she said and she “did” something about it! She really did “wear-her-talk – and I, for one, love her for it!

If only more politicians did the same!

And, I ain’t just talking about taking an interest in allthingsenvironmental

 

Most of us HAVE a PERSPECTIVE on the environment. I mean we all “think” that looking after the environment is a “great” idea, don’t we…something that is importantsomething that we need to care about?

But many of us do not “do” enough…not all of us “walk-our-environmental-talk”!

Not so “out there”, now…huh?

So, what the heck does this have to do with LEARNing?

EVERYTHING….

 

There is a huge difference between “thinking” that something is a “cool idea” – and “doing something” about that same thing. Or, even by working to make a “real difference” by:

living it,

breathing it and

putting it at the heart of your decision-making

How many of us…and those we work for…can put our hands on our hearts and say we truly do this with student LEARNing?

I feel a “story” coming on!

 

When I was much younger, I was (by some accounts) a half-decent teacher – but I also discovered I was a far better LEARNer.

I worked my butt off…read like my hair was on fire…and realised I actually got better at the TEACHing “stuff” by doing more of the LEARNing “stuff”.

The problem was I actually thought it was all about “ME” – my TEACHing abilities, my TEACHing style, my TEACHing “stuff”…

Sure, student LEARNing was important…but insofar as my “performances” contributed to that LEARNing…I actually believed that the LEARNing of my students was because of what I did!

The “ego” on the bloke!

This was until I travelled to Milwaukee – to a little place called Alverno – and (finally) “got” it:

OK – perhaps it was not all Alverno – my wife had been “working” on me, too (and what a “job” she did over the years – all the good stuff is “her”, the rest is residual “me”)….

But, what the Alverno guys LEARNed me was that there were people out there that realised that the “calling” was not TEACHing.

People who knew that it was “service” to LEARNing that was important.

People who had decided to TAKE a curriculum PERSPECTIVE

Just like Jae Rhim Lee (without the “ninja PJs”) the faculty at Alverno realised that simply “having a perspective on curriculum” was not enough – if they wanted to make a “real difference” to the lives of their students, they had to TAKE a PERSPECTIVE on allthingscurriculum (and allthingsassessment, too).

Alverno “got” that, to borrow from Ghandi, it had to “be” the change it wanted to see in Milwakee and Wisconsin – and decided to change the “rules of the game”…

They realised that rethinking education and LEARNing was not just about changing course content (or course codes) – it requires new thinking about curriculum, assessment, and teacher development.

In short, they “got” that reinvention of their approach to curriculum and assessment first required that they make explicit their assumptions (and values) about LEARNing itself.

Now, you see why I have been asking so many questions…and inviting people to do the same.

 

The result – Alverno established its core purpose as being to develop those abilities students need to be successful as LEARNers, employees and citizens. In doing so they redefined curriculum around an explicit set of eight abilities, developed a collaborative, interdisciplinary pedagogy and LEARNing process capable of continuous improvement, and…(wait for this ONE)…required students to demonstrate competence in the eight abilities as a condition for graduation.

The Alverno model has become a best practice model for “doing business” very differently in education and “adding value” to students – value that is praised by the business and community organisations around Wisconsin and the U.S.

Alverno got it so RIGHT…so many years ago!

So, why do so few institutions not get it today?

Probably because TAKING a curriculum (or LEARNing) PERSPECTIVE takes bloodsweat and tears…and recognition that there are no magic bullets (especially of the hardware, software and webware variety)…

More next time…

Back to University – Time for a CHANGE?

In Our Universities on 06/09/2011 at 10:56 am

I took my “son” for his morning walk earlier – and realised Ankara has come back to life (after a long “August-cum-Ramadan” break). So many cars on the streets – even Dexter was surprised!

Many of the cars I saw on the road have their “stickers” from this-school-or-that-school and this-university-or-that university – all displayed “proudly” in their windows. I never really got why people did, still do, that…

It all reminded me that universities start back this month (not just schools) – so I came home and took a look at some of my earlier posts on “the university”…

 

I have been quite “critical” of many of the ways our universities “do business”:

And, I have “teased” them about the games they “play” with their “rankings”!

 

Some of my “guest bloggers” have been quite “critical” of many of the ways our universities “do business”:

Even about “research”:

 

However, and as you know, I’m more interested in the way our universities do the business of allthingslearning and in one post I offerred some suggestions of how they might “break a few rules” and gave some examples of the way ahead (maybe):

 

  • Virtual University is now in 130 countries (and still asking if you want to be a “professor”)
  • The Khan Academy is still going great guns – having to date delivered almost 73,762,000 lessons! Amazing what a little “injection of Gates-dosh” will do for you…

 

 

 

 

So, I have decided to re-blog it (see below) – you never know we might see a few more of these changes.

AY2011/12 might be the year!

 

 

For The Times They Are a-Changin' The world is indifferent to tradition and past reputations, unforgiving of frailty and ignorant of custom or practice. Success will go to those individuals and countries which are swift to adapt, slow to complain and open to change. Andreas Schleicher I think it was Moe who said “Higher education is a thousand years of tradition wrapped in a hundred years of bureaucracy”. BUT, we do have a great many “best practices” because of this traditionRead More

via allthingslearning

For The Times They Are a-Changin’

In Our Universities, Technology on 28/02/2011 at 7:28 am


The world is indifferent to tradition and past reputations, unforgiving of frailty and ignorant of custom or practice. Success will go to those individuals and countries which are swift to adapt, slow to complain and open to change.

Andreas Schleicher

I think it was Moe who said “Higher education is a thousand years of tradition wrapped in a hundred years of bureaucracy”.

BUT, we do have a great many “best practices” because of this tradition…

A great example is the traditional “course-credit model” (developed circa 1890). Educational “bean-counters” love it as it allows them to calculate a cumulative GPA.

The fact that it tells us (and, more importantly, students) nothing (really NOTHING!) about the conceptual development of learners, the growth of intellectual abilities or the quality of learning that takes place over time – is conveniently ignored.

The other thing I have often wondered is why – across just about every country on the planet (probably on a couple of others, too) – all lectures and classes seem to be around the same length (45-55 minutes). And, why so many different disciplines, so many specialisations, so many programmes – can have roughly the same number of lectures in a given semester.

Trust me – I’ve asked people these questions over and over.

Noone has been able to give me an answer – apart from “That’s just the way it is”….

Maybe, I’m a bit thick!

Here’s another one…why do we train PhD candidates only to do research, when we know most of them will be hired to “teach” our kids. Teaching people “how to teach” (or at least helping them “understand how people learn”) would seem like a pretty good idea for say, a lecturer, yes?

And, far superior to allowing university teaching practices to be built on “folklore” about what works in teaching and learning and certainly a lot better than lecturers simply “doing business” the way their own teachers taught them.

Hey, I get the idea that the Academe, for many, exists for the purpose of the unfettered pursuit of truth and excellence through scholarship and research – I do, and I am also a fan of research (seriously)!

I also get that it is only “the opportunity to do research, and earn esteem from fellow researchers, that compensates for relatively poor salaries, and motivates talent to enter the academic profession”.

But, I have just had to prepare a citation for an article I’m doing right now and it had “TWELVE authors” – meaning they all wrote about 400 words each (about the same number of words I have written up to this point for this blog post).

And, I know that all of these “esteemed publishers” will see very little professional advancement within the Academe as a result of their “teaching” (or “public service”).

BUT, it all does not seem “right” somehow

Yeah, yeah…Tony’s needs to blow off some steam and have a rant! But it’s not just me that thinks that the Academe’s obsession with research might, just a teeny-weeny bit, be getting in the way of student learning.

Lauren Pope, writing in 2006, offered this advice to parents and kids getting ready for college:

…for the undergraduate, the Ivies and their clones are scams. In those universities, you will be ignored. There are no rewards for teaching, so professors, famous or not, do little or none of it. If they do, you’ll only ever see them behind a lectern. In many of these schools you will never write a paper. Nearly half of your enormous classes will be taught by part-timers, many of whom can barely speak English.

And he was talking about the best universities on the planet.

Guy Claxton also points out – this time talking about the UK:

As things stand, less than half of all young people go on to university, and many of those who do, now endure an assembly-line experience at least as passive and depersonalised as school.

I’m guessing more than a few lecturers would also agree with both Pope and Claxton…and me, too!

I know the Ivies, the Golden Triangle colleges of the UK and all the schools scrambling to get into the T.H.E’s Top 100 Universities List will come back with tales about the quality of their teacher-researchers and the wide range of citations their staff have been amassing this year (more often than not because they have been sending their “teaching assistants” into undergraduate classes so they can “publish”).

But, when we look through “the smoke and the mirrors” we see that the rankings are “phoney”, are easily “manipulated” and that many of the claims we hear are, in reality, nothing more than “academic slight-of-hand”.

As Pope notes again:

These damaging things are compiled by statisticians who can only measure input factors, many of which are totally irrelevant to education. They know nothing about what happens to young minds and souls in the four years of college. Some anonymous Canadian has said the American way of judging the quality of college by the grades and scores of the freshmen it selects is like judging the quality of a hospital by the health of the patients it admits. What happens during the stay is what counts.

Trust me – it is not only America and the UK that “plays these games” – try every country on the planet!

Some of the best Turkish universities play the game, too – and are getting very good at it.

Those of us who love (or have “adopted” – as home) Turkey all know, “deep down in our hearts” (and because the World Bank tells us), that most public universities in Turkey have been developed as though they are or will be “research universities” (whatever that really means). This is despite the fact that the level of research is low at most institutions and the post-graduate population remains tiny – this is even true of the newer, more dynamic foundation (private) universities.

Granted there are a few “stars” in the Turkish Academe – but many other members of the Academe remain “little more than secondary schools” (Mızıkacı).

And, we know that our schools are doing little more than socialising Turkish children into the “ways of the examocracy” – while doing really well as “supply schools” for the “Dershane Culture”.

BUT, he says again, it all does not seem “right” somehow

Wouldn’t it be super if the Academe could respond to a few of these issues – with more than “a bun-fight” any time we put them on the table?

Wouldn’t it be great if more of them committed to:

  • Making a difference in student lives by putting learning at the heart of what they do,
  • Promoting real learning by community building, purposeful engagement and encouragement of risk-taking on the part of all students and staff, and
  • Providing choice, widening interdisciplinary collaboration, and making sure they produce meaningful “value added” in every single student.

And then, did something about it.

Wait a minute!

There are some people who are breaking the rules – perhaps a bit of competition might be the “nudge” the Academe has been waiting for:

KSRF’s Virtual University, the oldest learning community on the web, was set up in 1995 and brings together academics, professionals and practitioners to co-create the type of learning that has made happy customers out of their three million plus “students”

Anyone can sign up for courses, teach their own course (or co-teach with others around the world), act as a learning mentor, and share-share-share

As well as leading the charge to promote “collaboration” over “competition” in the world of learning – they offer the kind of programmes people want and need – as well as ensuring that they offer learning experiences designed to produce educated, responsible and employable “graduates”.

The Khan Academy created quite a “storm” when it opened its “portal” in 2006. It is rumoured that the Academe put a “hit” on its creator – and he was only saved by the intervention of Bill Gates

Sal Khan, an ex-financial analyst (who did not have a PhD and had never taught), began delivering lectures from his “bedroom waredrobe” – and quickly became the most popular educator on YouTube.

Gates now describes him as “my favourite teacher”!

His motivation – “to deliver things the way I wish they were delivered to me”. In a way, his Academy is something of a “one-man protest” against what he sees as a “flawed educational system” – and in doing so he openly challenged the long-standing assumption that professional academics make the best teachers.

They do not. The “Oscar” goes to primary and ELT teachers!

It would be fair of you to ask – Is he the best teacher you are ever likely to see?

No.

But…..he is real, human and flawed – and his students love him. They love learning with and next to him – why he even lets his students “correct” him and help him out! They are engaged and passionate – half the battle.

BTW – his newer (2010 and 2011) videos are so much better. The other news is that he may be running for President soon – his campaign posters are ready!

Alain de Botton opened his School of Life in a little “shop”, just off Russell Square in London, some time back. 

By all accounts he and his partners are doing pretty “brisk business”.

He has done this by working to create a new kind of “social enterprise” and you can pop in to take courses and attend lectures on all “things that matter” in life – relationships, death, work, change, asking questions, the future.

Their goal of producing learners ready, able and willing to leave their communities in better shape than they find them today is one we can relate to. Besides…

Aren’t all universities supposed to be “schools of life” and help students learn about this stuff?

The Academe we have today, and its various sub-groups around the globe, was a “product of conscious design”.

Over time it has been reconstituted and upgraded – the last of these major upgrades took place over a hundred years ago and was engineered to rationalise the process of discovery (and created the discrete research disciplines we all know and love today).

The problem?

The Academe still sees undergraduate learning as a secondary by-product of this knowledge creation – and by all accounts is still not delivering on its promises.

It is time for “real change”Bob Dylan explains why:

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’

 

For our “sevgili inekler”

  • Anderson, C. W. (1993). Prescribing the life of the mind: an essay on the purpose of the university, the aims of liberal education, the competence of citizens, and the cultivation of practical reason. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Claxton, G. (2008). What’s the point of school? Oxford: Oneworld
  • Mızıkacı, F. (2006). Higher education in Turkey. UNESCO-CEPES. Monographs on Higher Education. UNESCO, Bucharest
  • Pope, L (2006). Colleges that change lives. (New York, Penguin)
  • Schleicher, A. (2006). The Economics of knowledge: Why education is key to Europe’s success. Lisbon Council Policy Brief, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2006). ISSN 2031-0943