Reflection on Higher Education

A fundamental change is needed to curricula based on national restrictions or we do a disservice to students. I would say that higher education needs to teach students a wider understanding of the world they’re growing up in rather than just teaching skills for future employment and cramming their heads full of facts. Higher education has become a bit joyless as a result of the’ mostly narrow competence models which are information heavy and traditionalist. We need to start doing things very fundamentally differently or we are going to do a disservice to the present generation of students as well as those from years to come.

joyless

We’ve got a curriculum now that’s information-heavy. It’s traditionalist in its approach and while, of course, you do want students to acquire a high level of the essential competencies they need all through their lives and for their future employment, higher education has become a bit joyless, and that’s not only the fault of higher education institutions.

Teachers have gone to great lengths to make higher education a happy secure, safe places for students to be,  but the actual content of learning isn’t all it should be. There needs to be less rote-style learning and more support to students to develop their own faculty for critical thinking, asking questions and interrogating data, and working collaboratively with one another. Higher education is general is still too much a fan of students sitting facing the front in fancy classrooms. I’m more a fan of students working in teams and learning to cooperate and work on the basis of helping each other to share their learning experiences and support one another to learn and improve.

narrow curricula

What we have now is quite narrow curricula based on competencies models. I want to see something that is much broader that gives a wider understanding of the world which students are growing up in. The current accountability system does not motivate and incentivise teachers and leaders to offer a variety of learning spaces (subjects, projects, learning outcomes). We need to have a very big look at the way our accountability system actually works, because it doesn’t deliver improvement on a learning level and it isn’t helping us to achieve that broader curriculum. This is not about compromising on standards. I’m not saying I want to make higher education less challenging. I want students to be stretched to their full potential, I want a supportive, collaborative, cooperative environment for them to do that in, I want teachers to be part of that and feel that their professionalism is recognized and that what they’re doing is enabling students to learn and develop their learning skills, not simply cramming their heads with research skills and facts.

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