Mindset over Matter: Does Higher Ed Understand Its Mission-Critical Role?

Published by Joana Jebsen
on Aug 21, 2019

In 2006, when Sir Ken Robinson struck a nerve with what is now the most viewed TED talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?,” climate change, the rise of AI, and other hot topics were not the focal points they are today. Now his argument vis a vis schools has expanded. Education’s role is not just mission-critical when it comes to addressing this century’s most troubling challenges, Robinson says it is the only institution that can successfully do so. In a recent Wired UK article, he states:

“We face existential challenges. We have immense capabilities to innovate, but the clock is ticking and education is the only key to unlocking these capacities – not the torpid system of testing we have now, but forms of education that celebrate and cultivate these unique powers deliberately.”

Sir Ken Robinson

But what does Robinson mean by forms of education that help students not only succeed but also cultivate their unique powers? His 2013 TED talk, “How to Escape Education’s Death Valley”, perhaps hints at the evolution his perspective would take. He discusses three principles necessary for human life to flourish and how the culture of education contradicts these. Paraphrasing Robinson, these three principles are:

 

Diversity – Human beings are naturally different and diverse. Education is based on conformity and determining what a child can do based on a narrow spectrum of subjects. A real education is personalized, teaching to the diverse strengths, talents and needs of the individual student.

Curiosity – Once the “spark of curiosity” has been lit, learning will happen naturally, without much further assistance. Education is about learning and without it, there is no education happening. By extension, for learning to happen, education needs to spark curiosity. But in place of curiosity, what we have is compliance. Robinson emphasizes, “Curiosity is the engine of achievement”.

Creativity – Human beings are creative beings. Imagination fuels creativity. But instead of fostering imagination, an education system based in tests, scores and standardization does the opposite. “We can create our lives and re-create them. It’s the common currency of human beings. It’s why human culture is so interesting and diverse and dynamic,” shared Robinson.

In his Wired article, he stresses a fourth: Collaboration. “And the human adventure can only be carried forward through complex forms of collaboration,” says Robinson.

If these four principles are necessary for humans to flourish in life, then it’s more important than ever to move away from the traditional higher education learning model and towards creating diverse learning experiences. Experiences that emphasize subject mastery over test scores. Experiences that are personalized, collaborative, and anchored in the learner’s needs, while leveraging a variety of learning tools and techniques to meet these needs.

With the majority of students arriving at colleges and universities lacking an education that supports these four principles, is it not our responsibility – our mission — to improve their learning in such a way that they’re fundamentally prepared to flourish in life vs. just succeed? And help their communities flourish vs simply survive?

Curious what Robinson’s views are now? He was recently interviewed by TED for an update. Link over to that podcast from here.

23 replies on “Mindset over Matter: Does Higher Ed Understand Its Mission-Critical Role?”

Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a means you are able to remove me from that service? Appreciate it!

After going over a number of the blog articles on your web site, I honestly like your way of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site too and let me know your opinion.

After looking over a number of the blog posts on your web site, I really like your technique of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website too and let me know how you feel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

INSIGHTS

Resiliency in the Now Normal: Spending for Sustainability and Scale is Key

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Apr 22, 2021

Earlier in April, Matt Reed proposed the best use of the $12B included in President Biden’s infrastructure legislation for updating infrastructure in community colleges, would be “ways that situate colleges to be more resilient in future economic headwinds.”  For those of you unfamiliar with Reed, not only does he write the “Confessions of a Community College Dean” blog on Inside Higher Ed, nearly 18 years of his career has been in community college leadership positions. Dr. Joshua Kim, director of online programs and strategy at Dartmouth College, fondly refers to him as “Dean Dad.” In fact, Kim penned a response in support of the infrastructure spending recommendations Reed made in his post and offered an additional recommendation of his own: learning designers. 

Learn While Doing: Course Innovations in Real Time

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Mar 30, 2021

We recently learned there are approximately 20,000 learning designers in the US compared to over 1,500,000 faculty creating online courses. Additionally, a study we conducted last summer with 475 higher ed faculty revealed: Nearly half were simply mirroring their face-to-face instruction, Only 22% were designing their courses differently for online, More than 40% had never taught online or had only taught online for one to two terms. But here’s an even more startling fact: faculty were spending nearly 49 hours prepping an online course for the first time. Converting an existing course for online? Twenty-three hours.