What is Education?

This I think is a question for the ages. Plato in his republic poses that education is all. It shapes the man and thereby the society (well that’s my simplistic interpretation of what is actually a really good philosophical discussion about a lot more than that – read it – seriously).

I think that Plato still holds today. In my discussions it’s becoming clear that higher education is not the navel gazing, coffee drinking, cigarette smoking then moving into beer drinking process it was when I studied my undergraduate. Higher education today is a very serious business. (It possibly was in my day too but I’m not sure – I enjoyed the long discussions that went nowhere…)

There is a focus on knowledge and skills for the workplace. But there is also the education of life skills. How to think, analyse, write, engage with ICT. For me, today the question is about how content delivery fits into the big picture of everything else. By the time the lecturer has sorted out the learning outcomes and the skills to get the students there and the delivery method and the assessment and then the marking and then the administration and then the research and then professional development, where is the time to navel gaze on the content to make sure it’s as good as it can be?

Is the pace of higher education so fast now crammed with so much, that it’s lost something? Or is it better now because it is focussed with clear learning outcomes and accountability? The project is designed long term to give time back to academic staff. The trick will be not to lose the point of education in that process.

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