The New Year for me, metaphorically speaking, is September. I guess that is because I am by now a “lifer” in the education system. September has an air of new beginnings and excitement; even with the shortening of the days and the cooling of the air. I think of it as fresh and clean. I guess that is why I felt the need to rise to the challenge and see an opportunity upon listening to Ken Coates on CBC Radio’s The Current a few weeks back. For those who didn’t hear it, it is well worth the listen. I haven’t read his book “Campus Confidential” yet, but I imagine that is going to be equally thought provoking. At first listen it (and probably read) it might be discouraging and yet it offers glimmers of hope. There are, and always have been, those students who want to “beat the system and get through with the least effort” as one young fellow interviewed so succinctly put it. There are many though who want to be, or at least can be, challenged and want to learn. They may sometimes need a little guidance and prompting and re-directing and pushing. Yes – their lives are very busy, but those of us on the other side of that initial university experience are tasked to keep them (or get them) excited and seeing their education as a priority. A means to a job/career? Perhaps, but more importantly a life experience – a means to look at the world critically and to find the passion, to delve more deeply into what ever it is that they are leaning. If we encourage them to do those readings (with a carrot or a stick), to engage in class, to think critically through well designed assignments and assessments perhaps we can begin to see some deeper learning and have students “engaged in great ideas”. Is it a window of opportunity?
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