September is the month in which many people, young and old, return to the classroom as students, teachers or facilitators. It's the month that we associate with new boxes of crayons, eager young faces and back to school clothes. Summer is relaxing and enjoyable, but we never seem to accomplish much in July and August. But we get back to work and back to school in September.
Today's College issue of the the New York Times Magazine focuses on teaching, including both traditional and online lecturing. The issue itself, like other online issues of this magazine, provides text, hypertext, blogs, images, and video discussions. If I were a college administrator I would suggest that all teachers should spend some time at this site.
Teaching, publishing, learning, and the businesses and professions which relate to these areas have been changed significantly by new information technology, but some of them have not realized that as yet. Educational institutions, in particular, seem to feel that the 50 minute lecture ('I talk, you write') will always be and should always be the standard teaching process.
I think that we should focus on learning, not teaching, and that those who teach should expect to learn from their students just as the students learn from them.
We need round tables, not lecture theatres.
We need informal learning spaces where students and professors can meet, learn and work together.
We need teachers and facilitators who are part of the world outside of the University as well as part of the institution.
We need teachers who can excite and inspire students as they work with them.
We need more educational institutions who use new information and communication technology to help create a modern learning experience.
I congratulate teachers and institutions who have embraced change and new approaches to learning. If I were a student I would search diligently to find such an institution, one that fostered a quality learning experience, a learning experience that resonated with me and that related to my environment and my goals. I would hope that this experience would result in a lifetime of learning and enjoyment.
No one bought me new crayons this fall: but I have a laptop and and an iPhone and I can continue to learn whatever and wherever I please. It's an exciting time.