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Higher education curriculum for human and social development. Filling a pail, or lighting a fire? (Peter Taylor)
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Higher education curriculum for human and social development. Filling a pail, or lighting a fire? (Peter Taylor)

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Presentation at the Plenary Session "Preparing the new generation – the educative purpose and higher education curricula for human and social development" within the 4th International Barcelona ...

Presentation at the Plenary Session "Preparing the new generation – the educative purpose and higher education curricula for human and social development" within the 4th International Barcelona Conference on Higher Education organized by GUNI (http://www.guni-rmies.net) in March-April 2008.

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Higher education curriculum for human and social development. Filling a pail, or lighting a fire? (Peter Taylor) Higher education curriculum for human and social development. Filling a pail, or lighting a fire? (Peter Taylor) Presentation Transcript

  • Higher education curriculum for human and social development. Filling a pail, or lighting a fire? Peter Taylor GUNI Conference 31 March – 2 April, 2008
  • “ Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” (WB Yeats)
  • 1. The Context. Different ways of perceiving knowledge
    • Knowledge seen as an increasingly important determinant of the wealth of nations
    • Universities should become more innovative and responsive “to the needs of a globally competitive knowledge economy and to the changing labour market requirements for advanced human capital” ( World Bank, 2002 ).
    • Education seen as a service-company, with society as its marketplace. Knowledge seen as a commodity (Olsen, 2000) and curriculum oriented towards providing well-equipped workforce for a globalising economic world
    • Knowledge becomes critical to the idea of development as achievement of “good change” ( Chambers, 2005 ), in terms of availability, and of how we use knowledge to understand knowledge
    • Policy goals of efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness and competition may work against the potential of HE to contribute to human and social development
    • Even with multiple global frameworks and programmes, HE alienated increasingly from poor and socially excluded communities and local concerns
    • Universities losing their faith “in the power of knowledge to elevate individuals and the world” (Reuben, 1998), with focus on the mass and the macro
    1. The Context: Challenges for HE curricula in a globalising world
  • 2 Exploring curriculum and pedagogy in Higher Education
    • Understanding of curriculum as both process and outcome
    • Curriculum derived through a process of dialogue around the ideologies, philosophies and epistemologies of knowledge and learning.
    • Education has the purpose of transformation rather than transmission
    • Pedagogical approaches associated with the curriculum appear in many different forms and are rooted in the interrelationships between knowledge and power
  • 2 Exploring curriculum and pedagogy in Higher Education
    • How can curriculum be created and based on local generation of knowledge (either by individuals or by collectives) as well as drawing on global knowledge?
    • Little emphasis on personal and particular dimensions of knowledge including the emotional, the artistic, the spiritual, the psychological - critical dimensions of developing a sense of agency and power.
    • Two key directions for curriculum that support learning for human and social development:
      • bridging between existing disciplines,
      • moving towards a transversal, interdisciplinary curriculum
  • 2 Exploring curriculum and pedagogy in Higher Education
    • Curriculum development processes often hierarchical, exclusive, unsystematic and dominated by privileged forms of knowledge
    • How can curriculum change become inclusive, just, democratic, oriented towards citizenship, and based on transformative and more participatory processes?
    • How to combat resistance to change?
      • through structural means?
      • through an understanding of power relations?
      • or via an integration of these visions for change?
  • 2 Exploring curriculum and pedagogy in Higher Education
    • Relationships within formal education systems have major impact on HE curriculum
      • Students and teachers share a desire for “sameness” in learning and teaching strategies
      • Learning preferences determined by experiences at lower levels of education system
      • HE perpetuates the system which has been legitimating, delivering and evaluating students’ knowledge during their formative years
    • “ Lifelong learning” emphasis needs purpose to shift the real challenges
  • 2 Exploring curriculum and pedagogy in Higher Education
    • HE still dominated by “qualification escalation” (Dore’s Diploma Disease)
    • Many innovations being observed but difficult to spread – are they limited by their own contexts?
    • “ Banking” and transmission of knowledge still prevalent
    • Much teaching still top-down requiring rote-learning - lack of real comprehension and conscientisation
    • ICTs provide a “double-edged sword”, increasing access but working against critical reflection on experience?
  • 2 Exploring curriculum and pedagogy in Higher Education
    • Content of these learning experiences is often narrow – addressing skills, methods or theory,
    • Rarely giving conscious attention to power issues embodied through experience (for example of faith, race or gender),
    • Often failing to enable learners to explore who they are (as opposed to simply how they are) in a deeply reflective way
    • How to achieve more transformative pedagogies for human and social development?
  • 3. Trends and emerging areas in HE curricula and pedagogies
    • Professional and/or global citizen education? Implications for the HE curriculum
    • Complexity view of the world - inter- or transdisciplinary education
    • Curriculum and sustainability issues
    • Education for multiculturalism, peace and addressing conflict
    • Ethics, values and the curriculum
  • I. Professional and/or global citizen education? Implications for the HE curriculum
    • Key challenges include:
      • How may professional education programmes help to develop the capabilities needed for students to “learn” citizenship without overloading the curriculum and placing huge demands on both students and teachers?
      • How can coherence be managed between the “professional” components and other elements that enable learners to understand and play their part in human and social development?
      • What can be done to overcome resistance by professional bodies that do not wish to see significant changes in the curriculum of education programmes?
  • II. Complexity view of the world - inter- or transdisciplinary education
    • Key challenges include:
      • supporting development of capacity of teachers to adapt their pedagogical approach to one of uncertainty and problem-orientation
      • The need for employers to recognise, legitimise and facilitate the application by employees of more holistic forms of knowledge and practice
      • The need for schools lower in the education system to prepare students for interdisciplinary forms of learning and study, to enable them to make a successful transition to HE
  • III. Curriculum and sustainability issues
    • Key challenges include:
      • need for policy makers and funders of higher education to recognise the value of studies that emphasise sustainability as a vital complement to those seen as contributing to economic growth
      • need for reform within HE institutions to allocate needed resources and provide an enabling environment for innovation and changes in practice in sustainability
      • Engagement by HE institutions in wider societal debates on the major, global challenges of our times (e.g. climate change; environmental degradation; poverty and human rights) - even if this requires moving beyond their current, recognised areas of “expertise”
  • IV. Education for multiculturalism, peace and addressing conflict
    • Key challenges include:
      • integrating new areas of knowledge and practice within existing curricula that enable students to act as global citizens, to recognise the rights of others, and to work towards improved conditions for others in their local contexts, as well as at national, regional and global levels
      • building institutional linkages between HE institutions and other societal actors to contribute to, and help convene, dialogue for greater understanding and tolerance in society
      • Engagement and support by HEIs to processes that contribute to peace-building and reduction of conflict by generating and sharing needed knowledge
  • V. Ethics, values and the curriculum
    • Key challenges include:
      • establishing open processes and transparent institutional mechanisms that support dialogue around contentious or disputed areas of knowledge
      • recognition of academic “outputs” which place value on contributions to human and social development in addition to traditional metrics of peer-reviewed publications and successful bids for research funding
      • encouraging processes of engagement through teaching and learning between HE institutions, students, teachers, and wider society in a range of real-world, pressing issues, following approaches that are democratic, participatory and affirming the rights of all
  • 4. Looking forward – curricular possibilities for human and social development
    • How can we balance 2 main thrusts for the purpose of HE in the face of institutional norms and resistance ?
    • effectiveness and efficiency arguments, concentrating mainly on how we can do things better, and more cost-effectively, in a globalising world; graduates are able to compete as part of a global workforce, acquire more highly paid jobs, contribute to economic growth, and continuously increase the demand for the education we offer.
    • appreciation of human and social development - scientific and academic inquiry need not be abjectly objective but should also allow for vision and imagination, linking to the spiritual, emotional and ecological, embracing uncertainty and possibility of alternatives, with a plurality of visions
  • 4. Looking forward – curricular possibilities for human and social development
    • What kinds of learning needs, capabilities and approaches will our future “global citizens” need for development and human freedom?
    • How can we enable our students to gain a critical consciousness of the world they inhabit?
    • How to make connections between a wide array of knowledges in the face of increasingly diverse problems and challenges; and to do this in a way that places equal value on the nature and quality of our relationships with the world at large?
    • How can we work with “marginal” areas of our education programmes: emotional intelligence; trust-building; knowledge and opportunity to adapt to and function in unfamiliar contexts; collaborative skills for work in groups, with members from highly diverse backgrounds or even across former conflict lines?
  • 4. Looking forward – curricular possibilities for human and social development
    • Increase and incentivise opportunities for social engagement, action learning, participatory research
    • Develop and implement innovative, transformative teaching methodologies
    • Encourage and support participatory curriculum development processes
    • Use potential of ICTs - but wisely
    • Achieve shifts in institutional arrangements to make all this happen – avoid “institutional monocropping”, and increase popular deliberation as a means of creating transversal education systems around real-world problems and challenges
    • Work strategically with institutional leaders, policy and decision makers over time towards a shared vision for HE and human and social development