One of the key questions that keeping coming up in my exploration of University 2.0 is what is education, or more precisely, what is higher education? I know we’ve all considered that question, but from time to time there’s there’s a need to re-consider it. For me, this is one of those times.
Often we approach education with a vague notion that we need to ‘learn’ more about a topic. What it means to learn may begin as just a commitment to memorizing information and repeating it when someone asks us. We may think of that learning process as simply a to-do list, each week affording us the opportunity to check another item off of it.
But, for me, in order to be a truly successful learner, I must at some point make a deeper commitment. I must commit to finding a way to digest the topic at hand–quite literally by taking it into myself and making it a part of who I am–my own anatomy. At that point, I’m not trying to memorize and regurgitate facts; I’m not checking off tasks from a list in order to get a the best grade. Rather, I’m finding a way to integrate knowledge into the framework of ME. I’m trying to find a way to make that knowledge relevant to who I am and what I already know. And as I move forward, I’m constantly trying to revisit that knowledge and re-integrate it into the ever-changing framework (or anatomy) of myself.
… This may sound funny, but in a very real way, I believe blogging is meant to reinforce this. Blogging is an opportunity for me to step outside myself and record the process of integrating knowledge into my anatomy. Doing that often helps me to understand exactly what the integration has involved — which may mean I have a better understanding of what I’ve learned after I’ve blogged about it. And once I’ve blogged, I can then revisit each moment of integration again and again, each time re-negotiating how that moment fits into my current anatomy.
How would you answer the question? What is your definition of education? What is this enterprise that we academics are about?