The BT2P Blog is a forum for reflection and argument about higher education and its role in the larger society. We invite you to submit ideas or drafts for consideration (typically no longer than 750-1000 words) to [email protected].
- A goal of many educational institutions is to graduate well-rounded lifelong learners capable of thriving in conditions of uncertainty. The Covid-19 pandemic offers educators an opportunity to assess whether or not this aspiration lives and dies in marketing materials or animates our daily interactions with students.
- Dewey once said that the isolation of school is a type of isolation from life. He was arguing that school needed to value the lessons from home, to bring the real life of students and the things they are doing and feeling into the classroom, not separated from the classroom. What happens when school has to be from home? While most of the talk about fully online college is about what doesn’t work well –– our fears about student equity gaps, about students not feeling like they belong, about not creating the best situation from which to learn –– still, there are so many amazing things happening and that could happen. Perhaps the greatest democratization of our education system comes from our ability to learn from anywhere.
- Anyone who is trying to understand the concept of white privilege should ride an electric bike. For those who don’t know, electric bikes, or e-bikes, provide an electric pedal assist that boosts whatever effort you are making to pedal. E-bikes are not mopeds. You have to put out effort in order for the pedal assist to have any effect. If you are riding an e-bike, especially for exercise, you can be working very hard and pedaling like crazy. It is easy to think that your effort is everything. But the pedal assist always sits under you, helping you go faster, farther and up and down much more difficult terrain. It is all too easy to forget that the electric pedal assist is there and assume that your progress is really all just you.
“We have no permanent enemies, only permanent issues.”
--The Reverend William Barber, The Third Reconstruction
Higher education is now a fault-line in American politics; the 2016 election made this crystal clear. Hillary Clinton won the support of college graduates by an estimated 21 points and graduates of color by twice that margin; Donald Trump won non-college voters 50-43 and whites voters without degrees—nearly half the electorate—by 36 points. Alongside race (and entwined with it), education has become a primary predictor of the red-blue divide, more salient than income, age, or gender.
- Among the dominant issues of the new decade is climate change. All current climate modeling suggests an intensification of climate-related catastrophe, Australia over and over again. Faced with economic and ecological collapse, vast regions of the country will face further deterioration of social life, a continuation of the opioid and suicide epidemic, and violence. The political system will be trapped by its dependence on the money and power of the current economic system. The contradiction between the market (as currently construed) and a plausible future will be evident as the climate crisis intensifies each year. How will students react?
- It’s a time of turmoil in higher education. Caused by a confluence of many factors—rising debt, languishing attainment, declining public investment and public trust in higher education, to name just a few—the turmoil has prompted conflicting responses from policy advocates, funders, and educators. Yet whatever solutions you support—whether it’s high-impact practices or apprenticeships, closing the equity gap or closing the skills gap—my hunch is that you agree that the need for change is urgent.