• New Year resolutions for academia



    Part 1
    IT is customary that come a new year, we compelling resolutions make fervently promising ourselves to faithfully hold on to them. Our resolutions set goals we wish to accomplish. These may be short or long term or a mix of these to achieve. Those of us who sustain the pursuit of these goals and realize them would celebrate success—not necessarily become euphoric, but feel great inner satisfaction, an increased self-confidence and mental maturity as well. Depending on where we are in our career, or where we left off in our lives as of the past new year, the extent to which we have achieved what we promised ourselves—would spell our mindset. Besides resolutions for ourselves, I invite our readers to share what resolve in higher education found their way in the web, considering that higher education has caused many a turning point in many lives. Higher education prepares us for the various professions. CEOs of huge and small, local and multinational corporations, presidents of universities, principals of basic education, directors of vocational and technology institutions, specialists in hospitals, magistrates, generals of our national defense, bishops of various faiths, secretaries of government departments, ad infinitum— all of them spent their student days in some higher education institution here or offshore, of varying quality.

    On liberal education. Philippine HEIs are comprehensive universities, having degree programs not only in the liberal arts (the arts, humanities and social sciences)but also in the various professions such as teacher education, engineering, business, healthcare, law, criminal justice, etc. If one examines the curriculum before K-12 was introduced, at least 36 to 42 three-credit units make up the two initial years—the general education drawn from the liberal arts (these two terms not being synonymous)—of baccalaureate programs. In the K-12, particularly in Senior High, the liberal education has its maiden bow. What then is the use of liberal education in one’s career? For the pre-K-12 college freshman, the initial English courses introduce the student to the four basics of communication—reading, writing, speaking and listening. The goal is to hone the students’ ability to learn to understand what they read, to put down their thoughts clearly and concisely, to speak out their minds with grace, and, as my highly respected recently departed professor and research adviser, Dr. Lourdes R. Quisumbing, well-known in academe and first woman secretary of the Department of Education and later, secretary general of Unesco, Philippine Commission, used to remind me, “to listen with my whole heart and with my whole mind.”<http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/24/why-the-liberal-arts-matter/>.

    William G. Durden, once president of Dickinson College wrote: “The final strength of a liberal education is that it teaches you how to learn—to read in a variety of subjects, find data, analyze information… how to ask the right questions, how to gather information, how to make informed decisions, how to see connections among disparate areas of knowledge, how to see what others might miss, how to learn quickly the basics of a profession, how to discern pertinent information from that which is false or misleading, how to judge good, helpful people from those who wish you ill. All of this I gathered in a useful liberal education—in and out of the classroom—and in an intense residential life where experimentation with citizenship and social responsibility were guiding principles.”<insidehighered.com/views/2012/11/26/essay-idea-useful-liberal-arts>

    Given the pace of change that is transforming industries and professions these days, one will necessarily need “that skill of learning and retooling all the time.” These are liberal education’s strengths and “they will help one move through working life.” <http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/24/why-the-liberal-arts-matter>.Let us hope for universities to provide full liberal education for every college student as much as their capacity can muster.

    Resolutions for academics. To chief executives, college deans, department chairs and other officials, Canadian education expert Michael Fullan’s Six Secrets to Change could be useful resolutions :1) Love your employees (teachers, staff, janitors, etc.; 2) Connect peers with purpose; 3) Capacity-building prevails; 4) Learning is the work; 5)Transparency rules; and 6) Systems learn.” <http://www.educationworldcom/atech/tech/tech251.shtml>.

    From the same source, M. Cossondra George (Grade 7 math and social studies teacher, Newberry Middle School, Newberry, Michigan) is “resolved to have heart as well.” She wrote that her “professional resolution is to be positive in all situations”, “to look for the good in other staff members; and to find ways to encourage them to grow and learn. I want to be more proactive in sharing exciting new ideas and research with other teachers, at my own school and beyond. In order to do that, I need to build strong personal learning networks, and find ways to mesh those networks to effectively share ideas among us all.”

    Spanish teacher Linda Villadniga of Creekside High School, agreed, saying, “In order to become a better employee/co-worker/mentor, I will work collaboratively within and outside my department, sharing ideas and strategies with younger teachers, but also listening to their ideas and strategies to get a fresh approach. I think there needs to be more cross-curricular activities to engage students more actively, so they can see the value of studying another language.” While the two ladies referred to resolutions for basic education, their promises can relate as well to higher education.

    For us academics, let us strongly resolve to carry out what we ourselves promised this year. (Next week: resolutions from us locals.)

    Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph


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