Written By: Robyn Shulman
The damaged soul of a university may be temporarily scarred. However, those who have built the physical structure have the power to move forward.
It is with great sorrow that I write this post, however, I feel compelled to do so. Watching a beloved university fall apart is no easy task.
There is a quiet collapse taking place in many institutions due to low enrollment levels, poor administrative decisions, and the rapid demand of technology that many colleges were not prepared to meet.
It is my belief that every university must continue to hold onto the core beliefs, reasons and understandings of what makes a good institution great.
There is a special connection that bond people together who work at universities, and the feelings of this connection pass directly to the students. Why? Because we all give off energy, both negative and positive. When a university is struggling, the students can sense something is off. Professors are worried, staff is anxious, and the ties that hold the college together quickly loosen.
Here are 5 important reminders that we should never forget about higher education:
1. Responsibility: Institutions have a responsibility to properly educate the student body for the real world. “Critical Pedagogy” as noted by Paulo Freire, is more important now than ever. High-level thinking, problem-solving, self-reflection, reasoning, asking and debating are ‘real life’ skills that must be demonstrated throughout one’s program. Content is always important, however, in such a faced paced world, universities must provide a venue for real-life skills, or the student will come out of school with a degree to nowhere. Students must come first; as they are the reason the university exists. Universities must be committed to properly educating their students to the very best of their ability. Higher education is a gift for many, and it must be respected and used wisely.
2. Culture: Many universities have a culture. This culture is one that lives within the relationships formed between colleagues. There are many bonds created between professors that hold the university up and keep students coming back for more. These professors write books together, create classes, write curriculum, and they make magic for their students. They share many professional goals. Culture and connections must be respected and appreciated. When a dent is placed within a culture (such as a mass layoff of teachers), the institution cries, and the students feel the sorrow. They quickly realize a great change has taken place.
3. Change: Change is the only constant. Institutions and teachers must keep up with the rapid demands of technology in education. If teachers are reluctant or scared to face the changes in technology (or any changes in the current education movement), they will quickly fall behind. As role models, teachers must embrace the change to move with the way of the world. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, technology is here here to stay, and teachers must be open to training and learning new ways to teach, or they (very sadly) can be left behind.
4. Roots: Many institutions have great history and amazing stories to tell. They should always stay grounded and remember their purpose. Social justice, making a difference, and helping communities are examples of staying within the original heritage of the college. Someone started a school for a reason, and those reasons should live on forever. The university should respect the roots and basics of the beginning. Hold onto purpose and meaning.
5. People: Everyone working at a university is a person. We are all the same. The president of a university is no greater than the secretary on the first floor. Institutions should remember that everyone must work together in an open and transparent manner. They should treat each other with the greatest amount of respect. Everyone working in a university plays an important role that keeps the wheels in motion. Administration should listen to those working in the field so they can work together to make the university a better place.
When changes take place so quickly, there is no time to truly mentally prepare. Many universities have lost life-long, amazing and dedicated professors. There is a quiet, damaged soul living in many places where hard work and dedication have been silenced.
For all of those whose lives have been forever changed due to the various reasons mentioned, I want you to know you have made an impact and a great difference in the lives of the many students you have touched (especially mine).
For more higher education articles, please visit: http://www.ednewsdaily.com/category/higher-education/