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Who Dares, Wins!

The 21st Century has presented us with opportunities to transform education and educational thinking on a myriad of platforms. Every century brings change and challenge, some for the better and some for the worse.

But, one reality stands true… those institutions that can adapt, change, overcome and transform—with the student body as the driving force—will create learning environments where meaningful and soulful activities reside and abide.

So what’s one thing I would change about higher education right now? I would wish for an ethos of envisioned transformation to permeate every aspect of teaching and learning at every level.

This would involve a sharing of experience and an equality of respect where the ‘sage on the stage/the lecturer/the professor’, is not always the expert in the room or in the field. Where the reversal of roles in the lecture halls is regarded as common place when it comes to exploring and sharing the possibilities of opportunity. Where the institutions regard an equality of right for society to infiltrate the corridors of traditional subject-based learning to ensure a holistic mix of real-time and book learning.

Where, as Plato envisioned, static university degrees are challenged to prepare active citizens for society—a society where the skills of critical thinking and transformative vision are required to survive in the work-place.

He who dares wins?? Yes? No? Very often in society we crave the wisdom to dare and go beyond the linear thinking attained during our schooling, but in many higher education environments, to dare is perceived as a virtual affront to the wisdom of professorial status! So many global examination systems demand the ability to ‘vomit’ information already digested in classrooms. Success is measured by the degree of regurgitated ‘wisdom’ and governments mark students accordingly as such system are easy to quantify and qualify. Do they prepare the student for life in the work-place ‘as we know it’? My experience—from meeting many international companies who are employing graduates—is that they recognize the attainment… but then set about de-layering the book-learning to begin the process of ‘de-toxing’ the graduate to face the real-world of economic existence in the work-place. One may disagree with my opinions, but pick up the phone and ask any multi-national executive to comment on employing university graduates and you will hear the same old story… the gulf between learning at higher-education and the reality of practice in the work-place is immense!

To conclude, what’s one thing I’d change about higher education right now? I would demand that every person charged with imparting and sharing knowledge at higher education—from the most academically qualified professors to the assistant lecturers and research fellows—would spend regular time working, and gaining experience, out in their fields of expertise, in real-time environment. This would indeed challenge them to critically evaluate all discussions and ‘book-learning’ in the light of change and transformative thinking. Their processes would be designed by their attained academic status and the reflectivity of evaluating and assessing in the work-place and society.

Meaningful, soulful learning demands change at all levels of inner transformation. Higher education, in order to re-gain the respect of society must adapt, change and overcome the traditional thinking of, ‘university degrees are more than adequate to prepare graduates for society’.

Higher education must lead the way of transformation and challenge the academy to go where no one has ever gone before so that society and the work place will be equally challenged to provide places for the graduates who will be transformative and critical thinkers. Who dares wins!

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