Monday, February 9, 2009

How do we serve the interests of the Student?

I’ve often said that whomever owns the definitions drives the debate. The content and standards of the design are based on what is required by the canon. It is the methodologies that should change to accommodate the needs of the students and the learning environment. The doctrine of self realization as it comes to us from the world is actually a doctrine of autonomy which is foreign to the Christian worldview.

I don't think this really has to do with age. Even the developmentally mature adult student should not be the definer of the content in the curriculum. They certainly have the choice of schools and therefore different approaches to curriculum, but we must offer up only what our purpose defines as the course to run. Now in general let me say that the issue boils down to what it means to be a servant leader in the educational milieu. It does not mean that we serve up what the students ask for, as this might be their ruination.

Failure to exercise proper authority is a big problem in leadership, and more difficulties arise from the lack of people taking responsibility than from an excessive desire to assume responsibility. I believe much of the problem with higher eduication in general is related to this lack of a stand on the notion that there is a canon. When I first became an ID (Instructional Designer) the first charge I had was that the organization was going to move from being a teacher centered enterprise to a learner centered enterprise. I made sure that I had the ability to define this as relating specifically to adjustments in pedagogy and methodologies related to teaching the curriculum. I wouldn't have taken the job otherwise. Then decisions about methodology were based on critically appropriated research about how people learn. But this did not mean we changed the standards for what was required for students to pass competency exams in their particular disciplines so the content became more "interesting". The changes in metholdology attained for that purpose.

So the REAL interests are we should be serving includes those of the students, whether they are aware of it or not. But not by catering to felt need or even preferences per se, and certainly not in an effort to allow students to construct their own reality. New technologies and pedagogies should enagage students by necessity but for what their real needs are. The curriculum must be designed to insure this.

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