I think that Michael Wesch hits the nail on the head in his article Anti-Teaching: Confronting the Crisis of Significance when he states in the first two sentences that,
The most significant problem with education today is the problem of significance itself. Students – our most important critics – are struggling to find meaning and significance in their education.
A dominant problem in our educational system is that we lose the student by silencing their voice. We do not make the education relevant to their lives, and therefore they do not engage.
It is my opinion, though, that as we discuss solutions to this, we go too far. We, as people, have a tendency to rebel against one extreme by running to the other. When it’s cold outside, my mother cranks the heat in the car until I’m sweating. When all pop music sounded the same, we ended up with such levels of individuality that some music became hardly musical.
I think this can happen in education too. Today, Christine Ortiz, the Dean of the Graduate School at MIT announced that she is taking a leave to start a new university with “no majors, no lectures, and no classrooms.”
Too often we ignore the input of the student crying “This isn’t relevant to me!” But we need not run so far that we ignore wisdom of the faculty member saying “I know it’s a stretch for you, but this is really important for you to learn.” How do we provide a meaningful and significant experience for the student without losing the direction of their education?
The nice thing about the car heater is that it usually ends up at a comfortable temperature after a little bit of sweating. And thanks to those that have continually pushed the boundaries of music, we’ve ended up with so many original masterpieces.
We need people like Dr. Ortiz to help us push the pendulum in a new direction. I can’t wait to see where we end up.
Why is education significant to you?
What do you think of Dr. Ortiz’s new university?
Where do you think education is headed?