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Ron Burnett

President and Vice-Chancellor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design


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Are Educational Institutions responding to the challenges of teaching and learning in the 21st Century?

The Digital Age offers all sorts of opportunities for learners ranging from the formal to the informal, from the Web to the classroom and the studio. Why do educational institutions continue to rely on traditional models of learning? Why have schedules, disciplines and departments remained the same as in the 20th Century? Why has the architecture of schools changed so little? How have learners changed?


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    Feb 18 2011: We are educated beyond our intelligence, at geat cost, confusing education with wisdom and considering "information" as valuable for it's own sake. We make less use of more information and continue to acquire more "information". The learning process is reduced to a few years, just long enough for most of the information we acquire to become "outdated" or irrlevant to the skills we need to thrive. Kant even questioned the need to study metaphysics. Do we teach to the test or teach folks how to think? The former produces dipomas, the latter produces thinkers.
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      Feb 18 2011: Yes, we teach to the test. A real problem and source of anxiety that has few demonstrable benefits. Learning takes place everyday, all of our lives. We need to understand how important all of our learning experiences are and then tailor education to the production of critical thinkers and active citizens.
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        Feb 18 2011: "Teachable moments" occur, often without prompting. How do we make classroom time filled with them? Who can do it? Hmmmm.... the professionals we treat as babysitters, place holders and test givers: teachers? One motivated teacher can do more to spark a passion for learning than several institutions. In fact, if you are lucky, you can make your way through many institutions on the encouragment from just one, early on and despite the failures of the institutions and their keepers that dog you through matriculation in and out of "higher learning", learn to think for yourself.
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          Feb 28 2011: Michael, let's call the "moments" we seek educative experiences. Those opportunities can occur anywhere.
          Autonomy is a key component to the definition of a professional. Nearly every teacher I know lacks it.
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      Feb 28 2011: I think "educated beyond our intelligence" is a great way of putting the problem with our society. It extends even beyond "teaching to the test." Fields of study are now so specialized that often it becomes easy to forget "the point." Is there one?

      If educational institutions are to respond to modern challenges, they must first ask the question "Why do we learn?" Is the purpose of education to prepare us for the competitive world, or is it to give us tools to achieve and pass on a fulfilled life? What are we living our lives towards?

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