Musings on Chp. 1

In Chapter 1 of Open & Integrative, Bass and Eynon note that many students are entering higher education with “uneven academic preparation,” with some of the students coming from “dysfunctional school systems” or other challenging circumstances. They go on to discuss the boon liberal education would be to those students with its emphasis on “critical thinking, problem solving, historical perspective, integrative learning.” As I reflected on passages from Chapter 1, I wondered–are higher education institutions really prepared to do this work?

So often, students from the backgrounds that Bass and Eynon describe are left to feel rudderless in a swiftly moving academic stream–and reminded over and over how their backgrounds or life challenges will make things more difficult for them or haven’t prepared them in any way. However, many of these students have already used critical thinking, problem solving, and the like before entering higher education institutions (sometimes before entering secondary institutions). Where are the spaces that help these students understand that they already possess some of the very skills that help people to be successful not only in college, but in life? Where are the appreciative approaches to educating students? Are the integrative approaches institutions use integrative across the experiences they will have (are having) in college, or do they also include integrating some of the very useful skills these students developed prior to attending the higher education institution? With technology, for example, were these students already using technology in integrative, open ways prior to their higher education experience? If so, how will institutions gather this information?

2 thoughts on “Musings on Chp. 1

  1. These are great questions. I’d even call them beautiful questions. Check out the streamed video conversation. Eynon in particular addresses some of your questions. The question I pose at the end, what Bass calls a “portal,” addresses the technology questions. I love the way you’ve framed the possibility–the necessity–of making sure we do not frame integrative uses of technology as if they exist only in schools and formal learning structures. This is indeed the tension I’m trying to discuss with Bret and Randy. I think it’s a crucial question.

    Thanks for this post!


  2. Essential questions. If liberal education can make any promise for democracy, it has to be on equitable terms, open on equitable terms. That means priority for students who would not in the past have walked through college doors. I’m thinking we need to say more about equity and open learning. A group of us explore some of these concepts (though not open learning) in our book BECOMING A STUDENT-READY COLLEGE. That’s a plug, but I do think we make a good case for equity and liberal learning in that book.


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