Friday, April 10, 2015

A call to reinvent Liberal Arts Education

This brew -- oversimplification of civic engagement, idealization of the expert, fragmentation of knowledge, emphasis on technical mastery, neutrality as a condition of academic integrity -- is toxic when it comes to pursuing the vital connections between education and the public good, between intellectual integrity and human freedom...”
Liz Coleman radically remade Bennington College in the mid-1990s, in pursuit of a new vision: higher education as a performing art. Inverting the trend to push students toward increasingly narrow areas of study, she proposes a truly cross-disciplinary education — one that dynamically combines all areas of study to address the great problems of our day. Her vision is based on lots of one-on-one interactions between professor and student, deep engagement with primary sources, highly individual majors, and the destruction of the traditional academic department. Bennington's emphasis on cross-disciplinary, hands-on learning has attracted capacity classes to the small college, and has built a vibrant environment for a new kind of learning. (source TED)
... And when making connections is of the essence, the power of technology emerges with special intensity. But so does the importance of content. The more powerful our reach, the more important the question "About what?" When improvisation, resourcefulness, imagination are key, artists, at long last, take their place at the table, when strategies of action are in the process of being designed. In this dramatically expanded ideal of a liberal arts education where the continuum of thought and action is its life's blood, knowledge honed outside the academy becomes essential...

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