Thinking about education

By Fabiana Kubke 26/12/2009

I have been putting more thought into education this year than I have in a long time. Part of it was stimulated by discussions held at kiwi foo camp, and part of it by some discussions held with my colleagues over courses we taught together. The common thread around both of them was how the material being taught fits within the student’s career choice (not always homogeneous in a class cohort) and how this, in turn, fits within the larger context of the contribution of the University to society as a whole.

Although the answer might be straightforward, implementing it is not so easy. As teachers we are constrained by the need to deliver a minimum of relevant information, limitations in the number of contact hours, and the ability to assess the students to make their degrees a meaningful measure of their professional capacities.

We can only provide students with the knowledge and training they need to develop their professional careers in today’s system. But we all know that the professional environment in which they will operate will continuously be changing. And it is the students that will be creating these changes, and we as teachers cannot know what those will be.

So, how do we, as teachers, pass down knowledge and training they need today, while making room for the changes of tomorrow?

As I prepare my lectures for next semester I am drawn back to ’The Element’ by Sir Ken Robinson. And from it I take his definition of creativity:

’the process of having original ideas that have value’

While Robinson talks a lot about encouraging student creativity, I am thinking more about my own creativity as a teacher. How do I teach an inhomogeneous cohort of students so that they will have the tools to create their own professional future?

While I think about this, I encourage you to be entertained by Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk.