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Sub-brand to go here. Towards a Higher Learning for a Challenging World. Ronald Barnett , Institute of Education, London University of York, Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, June 2010. Centre for Higher Education Studies. Conference themes and issues.

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towards a higher learning for a challenging world

Sub-brand to go here

Towards a Higher Learning for a Challenging World

Ronald Barnett, Institute of Education, London

University of York, Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, June 2010

Centre for Higher

Education Studies

conference themes and issues
Conference themes and issues
  • Making connections (past/future; York/outside world; students/tutors)
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Preparing students for the broader world of work and their later life (as well as immersing students in their disciplines)
  • U of York as research-intensive u but also excelling in L&T;
  • Traditional & innovative teaching
6 5 beginning questions
6.5 beginning questions
  • What is the nature of the world in which graduates will live their lives?
  • To what extent should a university take account of that world in educating its students?
    • Does ‘graduateness’ have meaning? (Being a graduate in the world.)
  • How might we understand ‘career’ now (eg amid (worldwide) recession)
  • If the world is uncertain in some ways, what implications might those considerations have for student learning?
  • What might students want of themselves?
  • How might a research-intensive university such as York orient itself in facing this set of issues?
the twenty first century
The twenty-first century
  • Challenge
  • Change
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity/ supercomplexity
  • Division – differences – of values, of resources, of perspectives
  • Global dimension
changing answers
Changing answers
  • Higher education - built successively around the themes of:
  • knowledge/ understanding (‘initiation’)
  • skills (‘employability’)
  • And now emerging?
  • wellbeing (‘therapy’)
  • citizenship (‘the global citizen’)
students as global citizens
Students as Global Citizens
  • A care/ concern for the world
  • A sense of interconnectedness
  • Not living in one’s own world
  • Helping to bring about a better world (cf ‘wisdom’)
  • A project of ‘engagement’
  • Implies first-handedness; genuine (critical) thought & action
  • Impact on curricula
  • And on opportunities while a student
forms of learning
Forms of learning
  • Sense that learning takes place in multiple sites
  • Even for the student
  • Is anything special about the student’s academic learning?
  • Lifelong learning – learning through timeLifewide learning – horizontal learning
  • Lifewide learning – horizontal learning

(We’ll come back to these matters in a moment.)

the ideas of graduate attributes graduateness
The ideas of ‘graduate attributes’ & ‘graduateness’
  • (So) the world presents human being with considerable challenges – technical, social, communicative, personal
  • We look to graduates esp to be human beings who can live purposively in the face of these challenges
  • Even to be exemplary human beings
  • Such a world requires, in the first place, neither knowledge nor skills but dispositions and qualities of certain kinds
dispositions for a world of challenge
Dispositions for a world of challenge
  • A will to learn
  • A will to engage
  • A preparedness to listen
  • A preparedness to explore
  • A willingness to hold oneself open to experiences
  • A determination to keep going forward
qualities for a world of challenge
Qualities for a world of challenge
  • Carefulness
  • Courage
  • Resilience
  • Self-discipline
  • Integrity
  • Restraint
  • Respect for others
  • Openness
dispositions and qualities compared
Dispositions and qualities compared
  • The dispositions are necessary; the qualities have a degree of optionality in them
  • Hence, just a few dispositions; but many qualities
  • The dispositions enable one to go forward
  • The qualities colour that forward movement; give it ‘character’
the idea of a professional career
The idea of a professional career
  • The idea of ‘career’ implied steady progression in a particular (and challenging) field of work
  • And that there were clear boundaries between work and non-work
  • Both of those axioms have to be ditched
  • Against the considerations here, a ‘career’ becomes the continuous public working out of one’s possibilities in an uncertain world
  • It is the sedimentation of the dispositions and the widening and strengthening of the qualities
  • In particular, the will to learn (disposition) and courage and openness (qualities) are paramount
lifewide learning
Lifewide learning
  • Being a graduate (it follows) calls for both lifelong and for lifewide learning
  • If lifelong lng is lng through one’s lifespan, lifewide learning is learning across one’s life experiences
  • Implications for universities: the opening up of learning experiences outside the formal curriculum – both on and off campus.
  • It just may be that graduates gain as much – in the formation of the dispositions and qualities – from non-formal settings as from the formal curriculum.
  • So the idea of the ‘life-informed curriculum’ beckons
  • (We are unclear as to the relationships between the student’s manifold sites of learning; to what degree learning in one domain can assist learning in another domain. The answer may lie in Ds and Qs.)
the higher educational significance of the dispositions and qualities
The (higher) educational significance of the dispositions and qualities
  • The dispositions and qualities are concomitants of a genuine higher education
  • Curricula and pedagogies could nurture them
  • But often fall short
  • Students are denied curricula space, and pedagogical affirmation
  • But the dispositions and qualities (above) are logically implied in a ‘higher’ education
  • - and a research-led curriculum could help to nurture Ds and Qs; but that requires a careful reappraisal of the relationship between R&T.
  • Becoming clearer about being a graduate in the C21 calls

for a sense of the world in which graduates find themselves

  • & of the responsibilities graduates have in the world
  • - to themselves and to others and even to the world itself
  • In turn, the idea of ‘career’ diminishes
  • But there arises larger questions as to the relationship

between graduates and the wider world

  • In turn, arise profound issues over curriculum & pedagogy
  • & in turn, arise qs as to the responsibilities of universities
  • And so arises the question of the university in the C21
  • It is that, no less, that lies before us in these considerations.

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