This is more of a response than a review, so if you didn’t go to this student-driven conference on innovating education on Saturday, it will be like reading a sequel for a novel you’ve never read. Never fear—I chuck you people towards Tyler’s blog and the website if you’re interested in the concept.
Now that those people are gone, let’s be frank. I chucked those people out of here because a) I don’t like summarizing things and b) I’m writing a few thoughts in random point-form.
0 There was something itching at me the whole time…I have a couple prejudices that make the whole concept of innovating education challenging for me:
Privilege Bias: I am priveleged under several aspects of the current system. I get good grades as it is. My learning style is suited to typical lecture-style, cut and dry teaching. So, I might have this selfish prejudice against changing things.
Status Quo Bias : See Tyler’s post. This is really big, especially in conjunction with the fact that there are many other problems and broken systems we could be working towards solving. I suppose it’s implicit when you go to a conference like this that you think it’s important but I always like to ask why. Why should I/we focus on this topic in particular? Are we appealing to justice and fairness, equality, truth, functionality/efficiency, or something else—and is it really such a pressing issue? (For example, we might understand why developing skills > information processing but why is it important? Is it because it will somehow make our workforce more efficient, is it because we’re going to stall in terms of being a forward-looking society, or is it because we simply find inherent value in perfection? And, given these reasons, how does it compare with other problems?) I feel like these questions weren’t asked or answered, and understandably so because they’re party pooper questions.
o I got about 100 pages into a introductory Macro-Economics textbook this summer (for fun) before I became really busy, but those 100 pages were fascinating enough. There were all these concepts and assumptions within economics that I see as patterns in society today. One of these is the notion of “specialization.” I recall the textbook arguing for the benefits of specialization—after all, an economy is more efficient when 3 people specialize in 3 different areas than when 3 people are well-rounded in all 3 areas. You can see where the university has adopted this and the consequences it entails. My point is that our institutions are shaped by political, social, economic, and scientific ideas…ideas are malleable and so are our institutions…OK so I thought I would have more to say on this point but apparently not.
o Moving forward: In Dr.Rawn’s talk, we learned about the process of implementing change. She openly admitted that she made mistakes when starting up her new course. Mistakes happen along the way. And I think it’s precisely those mistakes that are most feared—I don’t think it’s lack of leaders who care about better education, I don’t think it’s lack of resources, but the implications of making mistakes in something as life-changing as education. This, coupled with the problem of the Status Quo, poses quite the challenge.
o The problem with the word “innovating” is that it makes me think of shiny new buildings, toasters, and the future. When I think of one my most successful learning experiences, Arts One, I would say that it’s more traditional than anything. It brought us back to the notion of a university as a talking circle, an open conversation, a place to read together and learn together. We didn’t have twitter in the classroom, we didn’t have group projects, we didn’t do anything new. Moral of the story: beware of the words we use.
I was going to give a quick review of the different sections in Haiku form, but I am suddenly incredibly stressed out and leave that idea for any other pseudo-poets to pursue!