For July and August, Lisa and Kristen read The Heart of Higher Education and then reviewed it together in the video below, check it out!
From the first half of the book:
The real question is whether we want higher education to be about life.
Since graduates in many fields face the same steep learning curve…why not give students some with in situ self-education before we release them into the wild, the kind of experience that is part and parcel of integrative pedagogies?
If higher education does not help people learn how and why to take the risks of love, its moral contributions to the world will fall far short of its potential.
No matter how you slice it, the basic mission of the academy – knowing, teaching, and learning – is, at bottom, communal. That mission cannot be pursued successfully in the absence of cultural support for community.
We need to stop releasing our students into the wild without systematically challenging them to take an inner as well as outer journey.
The content presented was unchanged, but the lens through which I read the texts, equations, and arguments revealed heretofore unnoticed significance and granted meaning to otherwise inert material.
Integration and wholeness in student life is too important to be left to chance. It should be one of the guiding motives of higher education.
By seeing the cultivation of human experience as the basis of education, we multiply our ways of knowing, and enrich our understanding of the world.
If we possess only a partial truth, then when we approach problems in the environment, medicine, education, economics, mental health, and so on, we do so from a limited viewpoint. Our current conception of higher education and the treatment of our students derive from just such a fragmentary and incomplete understanding. We do not have the whole student in mind before us; too often students are seen only in part.
From the 2nd half of the book:
Students are explicitly asked to bring themselves into the material and to offer thoughtful comments based on introspection.
They experienced a profoundly ethical form of education in which knowing and caring were united.
Each semester students take courses across the curriculum, especially if they are in liberal arts colleges, that support a broad-based education. They should be encouraged to bring all of who they are and what they know into each class…Cross-disciplinary initiatives are needed if we are to prepare our students to meet the real problems our society faces. No one field has all the answers because real issues possess multiple dimensions.
While insight is the guide of wise action, its accomplishment requires restraint. We must pause to reflect before speaking, quietly engage the issue inwardly before acting, open ourselves to not-knowing before certainty arises, and so we live for a time in the question before the answer emerges.
An epistemology of love bridges the divide between intellect and feelings, between objectivity and participation.
We need, therefore, to become more attentive to our students’ intellectual, emotional, and character development and learn to see them as richly endowed, malleable beings open to cognitive and affective changes through pedagogical interventions and social formation. We should attend to the cultivation of our students’ humanity at least as much as we instruct them in the content of our fields. In this way higher education, both in the classroom and beyond, can balance its informative task with the transformation, which is of equal or greater importance. Long after they forget the content they learned, who they have become will endure and determine much of the character and quality of their contribution to society and the personal satisfaction they take in life.
Spirituality can become a practice that leads to knowledge based in experience. As such it finds a home on the side of science. But it is equally concerned with values, meaning, and purpose, and so it shares much in common with religion. Cognitively oriented spirituality, therefore, confounds the simplistic dichotomy of science and religion, or knowledge versus faith. It redefines the entire discussion.
How might we collaborate with others on our campuses to pursue issues ini the philosophy of education, their implications and implementation, in ways that could move higher education closer to the integrative ideal?
If we would do nothing more than come together with a few colleagues and ask them the kinds of questions that we ask of the phenomena we study – questions about their experiences and visions as educators – and then seek points of theoretical and applied convergence between us, we would take a first step toward becoming agents of change.
The decision to live an undivided life – made by people who know what they truly value – has always been a sparking point of social change.
– “I will no longer behave on the outside in a way that contradicts a truth I hold deeply on the inside.”
“What do you think about X, Y, or Z?” quickly takes me into my intellect, where defensiveness may arise as I wonder whether I can articulate my thoughts and how my conversation partner will respond. But “Tell me a story about X, Y, or Z” feels safe because it is unlikely that anyone will tell me that my story is mistaken. And the invitation to tell a story immediately calls me toward an integrative way of thinking, since a story must be told in the round with feelings as well as facts and concepts.
Telling personal stories that are connected to our hurts and our hopes, done in a well-designed and disciplined community of discourse, can help empower us to act.
Educate our students as whole people, and they will bring all of who they are to the demands of being human in private and public life.
Check out all our current and past #SAreads here!