Of Tools and Goals

Drawing on Kuh’s work, Gardner Campbell in his paper “Networked Learning as Experiential Learning” differentiates between learning as a “tool” versus  learning as an “objective” itself. He mentions that even though student-centered learning is the new mantra in the pedagogy arena, yet in most cases “learning” is considered as a tool to achieve certain quantifiable goals and objectives.

Built on Amartya Sen’s human development theory, one can explain Campbell’s perspective regarding education as a tool or as a goal. Sen’s believes that in human development, humans are the final goals of development projects. That means if a person gets educated, although she/he can serve her/his society better (human capital), however, that education will not be considered as a step towards human development, unless it creates new “freedoms”. Sen defines freedom as the capability to choose from different choices, so one can live a dignified life as he/she wishes. This said, the question is what constitute a transformative educational experience which can develop one’s choices and capacities in life.

3 thoughts on “Of Tools and Goals

  1. I think that learning can be seen as as both a tool and an objective. We can use learning to achieve an ultimate goal, but also, sometimes learning should be the ultimate goal (no strings attached, no stress about the end result etc)!

  2. A transformative experience for one can be not so transformative for another. I think that when it comes to learning, there can be a lot of subjectivity. The kind of learning Sen is taking about could be influenced by where an individual is placed in the intense and frustrating societal hierarchy. That being said I think that networked or experiential learning have the capacity to be transformative for learners, especially in the 21st century global society.

  3. I like how you look at the topic from another perspective. I think we can see “learning” as both a goal and a tool, it depends on a person and his/her personality, and many other individual characteristics. However, I think the main point is how this “learning” as a goal or a tool can help the individuals to live a better life. The same prescription does not work for everyone.

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