I was hoping for an important ‘teachable moment’ in class yesterday. After considering it over break, I decided to show the video below in hopes of eliciting a good conversation. I encourage you to watch it before I continue.
Did you Know?
The reason I decided to show the video was to relate some of the concepts we have been exposed to in Contemporary Pedagogy. My goal as an educator is not to teach my students facts and figures which they recite back to me; it is to turn my students make them learners. In my semester long class, I lecture maybe 4 or 5 days. The other days are activities and class discussions on business concepts designed to make my students think critically about a business situation. The only purpose rote memorization serves in my class is for 5 minor quizzes to make sure the students keep up with the required readings, and they are a very small part of their grade.
Therefore, I showed the video to may students to give them a realization that information changes too quickly. There is little way for me to teach them everything they will ever need to know. However, I really want the students to realize that by critically analyzing a situation using general tools and frameworks I have taught them, they can be prepared for the future.
I was slightly disappointed when my students did not have a lot of comments after seeing the video. One student noted that they had seen the video before, and they were amazed at how much new information was being produced. Another thought that America was going to be leapfrogged by India and China. To both of these comments I stated that these things might be true, but asked how can they as students prepare for this?
One student stated that the video showed how valuable my class is, but the student did not give a reason why. I was unsure if they were just saying something to please me. So after the comments I tried to relate my sentiments about being focused on being a lifelong learner and not memorizing facts, much of which I discussed above. I am not sure if the purpose of showing the video sunk in to my students, they seemed like deer in headlights, but maybe it has an effect on one or two of them.
I was unable to attend class last week due to illness, however I had spent the week considering the previous week’s class and had some thoughts. One part of the class stuck out to me, which were the two videos that professor at Kansas (?) posted regarding his students and their thoughts on education. Kim mentioned that the student’s seemed even more apathetic to their education in the second video. I am not sure that I entirely agree.
In the second video, the students showed initiative by creating short videos, mostly using post-it notes and other written cues, to send a message to educators. This took effort and creativity on the part of the students. This level of effort was not shown in the first video. Because of this effort, I felt that the students were less apathetic in the second video about their situation, and at times it seemed as those the students were enjoying the process. Granted, making videos not have been an option in the first video assignment. It also may be that the students in the second video were finally given an ‘interesting’ assignment that they could have agency over and leapt at the opportunity.
The educational system in America, or any nation, is far from perfect. I doubt there will ever be a system in which students of all types thrive. Perhaps there needs to be a multitude of systems that students can self-select into. However, if we look at today’s educational system and compare it to 50, or 100 years ago, I think we have an improved system.
For instance, more people have the opportunity for an advanced education today in America than ever before. This is due not to the educational system, but more to advances in technology and efficiency, less people of students age are needed to support their families with jobs on farms and in factories. While the educational system has been seen as a factory, students these days have the agency to choose their major and are able to participate in extracurricular activities to increase their learning abilities. Further, as societies’ knowledge has progressed, the level of knowledge that students leave school with today is more advanced that 10 or 20 years ago. Granted, relating the material to students may not be done in the best way all of the time at universities today.
I am not sure if students are more apathetic today than 10 or 20 years ago. I would like to think that universities have become better than the boarding school model of yester-year. While we are not perfect, I am ok with that as long as there is a continual desire to progress and evolve.