The current press for either the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) or the Competency-Based Online Course (CBOC) makes clear that the old-style liberal arts colloquium has failed. But here's the thing: the false dilemma is nothing new.
The nature of homework -- at what age it should start and what it should ask of children -- will continue to evolve. For now, perhaps we should want something better for our children than subjecting them to the same pressures that make our lives so hectic and stressful.
Given the need for this shift in college students, digital learning presents both a danger and an opportunity. The danger of the digital world is that it closes students off from the shift that is required if students are to become serious learners.
Anyone who has raised or spent much time with teenagers knows that they can argue. Passionately, effectively, and tirelessly. Yet these same skills seem to abandon many high school students when the topic is not personal but academic.
It's not unusual to hear a professor say, "My students are just not critical thinkers." To this I would reply, "So what are you doing to make them critical thinkers? What are you doing to develop that skill?"
Of course, gaining the knowledge and skills to land a good job is important and valuable for the individual and for our society. However, somewhere along the way, we have diminished in many of our students the joy of learning for learning's sake, the ability to think creatively and critically.
Today's students don't need more technology; they don't need more PowerPoint and computer-based learning platforms. What they need are enthusiastic and talented and creative teachers and professors who see education not as a job but as a calling.
How directly connected are they to life outside the school? Is the instruction in our math classrooms -- in every classroom -- useful and meaningful to students? Is our school curriculum relevant to society?
Why teach U.S. students literature from different countries? This is the fundamental question at the heart of this encounter. I remain deeply disheartened by what I often experience in the classroom -- the defensive rage when the dominant culture is attacked.
As a teacher who is an innovative and outspoken advocate for education and educators, and who takes his profession very seriously, I have only one thing to say to Jeff Bliss and his now historic rant: Bravo, Jeff.
We need a curriculum of big questions, examinations where children can talk, share and use the Internet, and new, peer assessment systems. In the networked age, we need schools, not structured like factories, but like clouds. Join us up there.
There has been an historic dispute regarding the liberal arts values of higher education versus career values, the argument being that they are mutually exclusive -- but they're actually not. They need to come together for the benefit of our students.
When we make sound pedagogical choices on reading, we can dramatically enhance students' abilities to work with all kinds of challenging texts. When we struggle, classrooms can become frustrating, unchallenging, or disorienting places.
Helping children understand in the early years of schooling that there is not just one "right" way to be a boy or a girl will open up opportunities for each child to explore their education more fully.
I wonder if something important has been lost in the mix of campus building projects, recruitment and retention efforts and the barrage of new pedagogical technologies -- all to convince our students to stay and study.
If education is thought of as providing students with information, today's Internet world is radically different from the pre-Internet world. From a content point of view, there isn't much we can teach students that isn't already online.