Issues in Education (Reflective Blog 1): The Being Mode in Education

Posted: September 22, 2011 in Education

The first EdD class I attended on 3 September 2011 actually left me with more doubts than answers. The question as to why I had chosen EdD over PhD kept surfacing during the lesson. In a class where the majority of us have been in the education system for so long, it is easy to have the answers down pat during the group discussion. I appreciate a more questioning and radical approach to why things don’t work and crave for a more intellectual discourse on how to fix a global education model that is broken.  I suppose what I didn’t get that day through the group discussion, I got it through Bruce and the readings thereafter.

I like the few points that were raised earlier during the lecture – how debating about issues is part and parcel of the education process: we lose a little of ourselves in the argument in order to gain a new perspective of the issue, similar to Barnett’s (2011), take that we ‘unlearn’ in order to learn: our prior knowledge of how things are needs to be usurped before new knowledge can be added.  Barnett’s conundrum of learning is very much similar to my take in the university of life – it is a cyclical, never-ending process of learning, unlearning and re-learning in the formation of ‘being’.

According to one of my favourite poets, T.S. Eliot, life is one great adventure where  ‘we shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’  And if this is the kind of learning that should take place in the 21st century, then I must agree partially with Barnett that it will be unsettling for the students who are results driven and oriented. More importantly, it will be equally, if not more, unsettling for educators and proponents of outcomes-based learning! To that end, it will certainly be interesting to see how far Barnett’s learning conundrum will make inroads into today’s education system where complexity, confusion and convolution seem to be the  buzz words.

Along with Barnett, Su (2011) also proposes that the development of ‘being’, a Heideggerian concept formulated in the existential philosophy of ‘being with’, could be the answer to developing lifelong learning abilities in students.  Rather than just focusing on imparting knowledge as something to ‘have’ and emphasizing on passing assessments and exams as something to ‘do’ for the students, Su suggests supplementing the ‘have’ and ‘do’ modes of learning with the ‘being’ mode of learning.

One problem I envisage with this mode of learning is the segregation of being-in-the-world and being-in-school and the subsequent transfer of skills; in the former, learning is often ‘caught’ (e.g. good attitude rubs on to another) whilst in the latter, learning is ‘taught’.  How this can be achieved requires more than a learning evolution of the education system; it requires what Sir Ken Robinson calls a learning revolution, on the part of the students as well as the educators. As we teach our charges to brave the new world of super complexities by being in the ‘being’ mode, it is best that we, as educators share, show and set the example!

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