Kevin Blissett: Out of the Cave

Leadership, Classroom 2.0, Curriculum, China

Not Forgetting Arts and Letters in the Race for Information

In his article, “Pleasure, Beauty, Wonder,” John M. Eger, communications and public policy professor at the University of San Diego, intones a familiar refrain in today’s discussion over how to educate students: Is the beauty in our world and in education being lost in the race for information?

Eger points out the following statistics to illustrate the task assigned to educators:

  • The top 10 jobs for today’s students don’t even exist yet.
  • Adults will change jobs 10 times by the time they reach age 42.
  • Some reports indicate that the amount of data and information has doubled every year in this century.

Clearly, getting a handle on all of this information and determining which is relevant is a major task for the 21st century workforce. However, there is another dynamic working here: In this high volume information age, the arts seem to be taking a back seat to more technologically oriented studies. Eger believes that this is a mistake, and I agree.

Correct use of all of this information is essential. Character, ethics, and a grounding in the humanities are crucial components to properly processing all of the data out there. Eger continues:

Addressing an education conference in late 2006, Dana GioiaRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, then the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said that we need “a system that grounds all students in pleasure, beauty, and wonder.” He added: “If we are going to compete productively with the rest of the world, it’s going to be in terms of creativity and innovation.”

Eger appears to be in favor of an integrated inquiry based approach to education. I have no problem with that notion so long as there is a proper amount of hard content to contextualize it. Students are never even going to scratch the surface of all of the facts out there, but they do need enough of a grounding and context to make sense of them. Moreover, they need a foundation in non-tech disciplines in order to correctly process and apply the knowledge.

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April 1, 2009 - Posted by | skills, technology, university

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