In recent months, both the efficacy and the value of a college degree have been questioned in the media and by the general public. In featured articles and in depth reports, questions have been raised about the quality of higher education, especially in terms of “guaranteeing” a good job after graduation; the increasing costs and the impact on debt; and the transparency of information regarding access, retention and graduation rates. While most people continue to recognize the inherent value of a college education and a degree, the questions and concerns more directly relate to the current model and delivery systems that have not significantly changed in decades.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is a highly respected and well-read weekly journal that covers higher education issues. It is equivalent to the many weekly business journals, and provides similar value to those in the higher education industry. In the past few weeks, The Chronicle has launched an interesting series of articles and an international contest.
In response to these criticisms and concerns about higher education, The Chronicle announced a contest called, “Invent Your Own College!” They are inviting any reader to propose his/her ideas in response to the question, “If you could start your own institution of higher education from scratch, what would you build?” Ideas can be submitted “in prose or poetry, a picture, a video, or even a song.” The five best ideas will be published and readers will be asked to vote for the best idea.
To help with the thinking process, The Chronicle has published fifteen essays written by its own reporters and contributing writers providing some of their ideas about how to change/improve higher education. The titles of these essays are:
- “An Old School Notion: Writing Required”
- “2 Captains at the Helm of Each College”
- “Grades Out, Badges In”
- “Degrees With a Price Tag”
- “A Student Centered NCAA”
- “High Tech College Counseling”
- “School at Age 3: No More 12th Grade”
- “Truly Global Campuses”
- “Ditch the Monograph”
- “Meet the New-For-Profit: the Low-Profit”
- “The End of Free Space”
- “A Kickstarter for Science”
- “2 Tracks for Faculty”
- “A Tax for Higher Education“
- “Community Colleges for the Students They Actually Have”
Over the next few weeks, I plan to share some of these ideas in more detail and include my own reactions and comments. I will also share my own idea for improving higher education which centers on more pervasive collaboration and consolidation between and among colleges. I will need to create a catchy title!
But I would be interested in your ideas and suggestions. I receive many comments about my blog every week. Typically, your e-mails either affirm what I have shared or take issue with a particular aspect of my comments.
Do you think that higher education is “broken?” If so, what aspects of higher education concern you the most? What do you think should be done to fix it?
Hopefully, your ideas will contribute to the necessary dialogue about improving higher education. You may help to change the way colleges and universities deliver quality education in ways that are both accessible and affordable. At the very least, I know that your contributions will be beneficial to a small Catholic college near Worcester!
(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)
This week, I would like to share some of my thoughts with the faculty.
Sometimes students find themselves in a class where they feel that the professor is a bit dull or lectures in a way that may cause the student to lose interest. Professors may find on occssin that their students have turned their interest to their cell phones or Facebook page and are not connecting with them. In my opinion, even a professor who may not have the most enthusiastic lecture style can make his or her class successful by introducing new teaching methods that will keep students interested. As the number one priority of any institution of higher learning is education, professors should also strive to have the student wanting to learn more by the time they are finished with the class.
As a junior at AMC, I’ve had the pleasure of having amazing professors teaching me things I would have never learned anywhere else. I know how important it is for a professor to connect with his/her student, because it makes the learning easier and the teaching effortless. Professors should always make the environment comfortable for the student to learn. Let the students feel like they are in the right place. Students will have an easier time learning and getting what they need out of the class if they feel comfortable and are eager to learn.
Professors, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.
This past weekend, Anna Maria College celebrated its annual Reunion Weekend. The highlight of this weekend every year is the recognition of our 50th anniversary class … this year it was the class of 1962. These women have lived extraordinary lives and provide a living history of this special College. As they share their stories of their lives at AMC and the decades after graduation, one is provided with a unique perspective on the changes in the world that they have experienced.
As I reflected on my time with the Class of 1962 and all of our alumni/ae, I was reminded of the fact that these golden anniversary women graduated in the same year that Vatican II was convened. Just a few days ago on October 11, 2012, the Catholic Church commemorated the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II. These women have lived the experience of the evolution of the Church… and there have been many changes.
One change that really extends beyond the Catholic world is the impact Vatican II has had on ecumenism. As Fr. John O’Malley from Georgetown reminds us,
“Before the council, Catholics were not only forbidden to pray with those of other faiths but also indoctrinated into a disdain or even contempt for them. (This was, of course, a two-way street.) Now, for the first time, Catholics were encouraged to foster friendly relations with Orthodox and Protestant Christians, as well as Jews and Muslims, and even to pray with them. The council condemned all forms of anti-Semitism and insisted on respect for Judaism and Islam as Abrahamic faiths, like Christianity.”
When Vatican II was convened by Pope John XXIII, it was the largest gathering of Catholic leaders to ever take place. When the 50th Anniversary Mass took place on October 11, 2012, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, were invited to attend.
Fr. O’Malley attributes this clear movement towards openness and ecumenism in the past twenty-five years to the life experience of Pope John Paul II. He suggests that Pope John Paul II’s experience as a Vatican diplomat and papal nuncio helped him to more fully understand and appreciate the “goodness as he found it in people of other faiths and no faith.” O’Malley concludes that this led Pope John Paul II to focus on reconciliation most notably with Jews, but also with Muslims.
While Pope Benedict XVI is more remembered for his ill advised comment about Muslims in 2006 just months after his election, his address at a mosque in Amman, Jordan in 2009 and his visit to the synagogue of Rome in 2010 reflect this same openness to others and a spirit of reconciliation.
Vatican II served as the genesis for many important developments in the Catholic Church. Over the past five decades, there have been significant reforms in the way we worship and celebrate Mass, the opportunities for all people to participate in Church leadership, and a more widespread commitment to education. These changes have really impacted Catholic colleges and universities as we welcome people of all faiths and traditions into the common search for truth.
This past weekend, the Class of 1962 shared their impressions of the changes in AMC over the past decades. But they also shared their experiences of increased opportunities for women and the evolution of the Church they love.
The Catholic Church is not perfect and there is still much to do to achieve the vision of Vatican II. But just as Reunion Weekend celebrates the lives and accomplishments of our distinguished graduates, it is right and appropriate to say, “Happy 50th Anniversary.” 1962 was a very good year!
(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)
In this week's blog, I would like to share my thoughts on the role of professors.
Your professor is the one who can open doors for you, open your mind to new possibilities and possibly change your life forever. Teachers have always had a huge impact in a student’s life. When I was in seventh grade, I had to take a social studies class. For seventh graders this meant learning about ancient civilizations from ancient Mesopotamia to ancient Greece, ancient Rome and so on. Going into that year I had no interest in these subjects whatsoever (mind you not many seventh-graders are excited about school to begin with), but the teacher I had changed my life in a way that may seem small, but felt large to me. He was so passionate about what he taught that you could almost feel it pour out of him in his lectures. He added humor and personality to every lesson he taught and made sure that his students stayed interested and focused. I ended up getting an award for the highest average in my class for this subject and then I went on to gain a similar passion in history because of the influence my teacher had on me. The reason I tell this story is to show how vital and important the relationship between a student and a professor can be, a relationship that many don’t take the time to cherish. Having a professor who’s class you love because of the way they teach or because of the type of professor they are can mean the difference between just getting by and having the best educational experience of your life.
Have you had a teacher or professor who changed your life?
Hello and welcome to my blog, Educating through Communicating: The Importance of Communication Between Professor and Student.
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my thoughts on the important role effective communication between students and faculty can play in a successful college experience. To begin, I would like to discuss the need for a college education.
“A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated.”
Today, we live in an age where a college education is key to finding personal and professional success. When most of our parents were going through school, a college education was considered more of a privilege than it is today. In 2012, it’s almost a necessity. While still only 1% of the world’s population goes to college, it is becoming more and more difficult to find a job without a college degree in this economy. Those of us who have made the transition to college know that it isn’t always easy but when we finally walk across the stage at graduation, we not only celebrate our achievement, we begin to wonder if we can achieve even more.Succeeding in college involves a great deal and it is much more than getting the perfect score on a test. For me, the professor-student relationship is one of the most important aspects of your education. In my next post, I will begin to tell you the reasons why. But for now, what do you think makes for a successful college experience?