To Inherit the Future

Article excerpt

A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep. or taste not the Pierian spring:

There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again.

-Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English satirical poet.

An Essay on Criticism.

Dear Dad,

Remember when I was about to start school? You were greasing the plows in the driveway and I was running circles around you. My mother was listening to both of us as we teased each other The sky was perfect and I remember seeing the sunlightplay through the trees behind you. "Are you excited about starting school?" "Yes!" "Well, I want to talk with you about it...you can't move around like you do now. You will need to sit all day long and listen to the teacher " My stomach plummeted and the smile on my face disappeared. A part of me didn't believe you...how could anything that had been talked about with such glee be so boring that I had to sit still all day? What if I couldn't do that?

I learned to sit (if not always quietly) throughout most of my school career. There were some exceptions. Family and Consumer Sciences was one of those. I have often wondered why I chose to major in family and consumer sciences. Was it because I so admired my high school FACS teacher? She was vibrant, funny and nurturing. Was it because FACS and education were an appropriate major for girls, especially girls from the farm? Or was it because I did not have to sit still in the classes?.

Well, Dad, I still sit quietly-some of the time. Most of the time, however, I need to keep moving as I learn how to place my courses on the Web, get my teaching portfolio together, attend the latest program assessment and educational reform meetings, and engage with students that are very different today. I am still in school.

"And drinkly largely sobers us again." Our dialogues about teaching and learning have changed significantly in the past 30 years. We are engaged in conversations about different types of intelligence and ways to facilitate diverse learning modes and styles.

Engelkemeyer and Brown in "Powerful Partnerships: A Shared Responsibility for Learning" (AAHE Bulletin, October 1998) propose ten learning principles to guide our work in education. The principles, in part, state that learning is an active search for meaning by the learner; that learning is developmental; that much learning takes place informally and incidentally beyond explicit teaching; and that learning is fundamentally about making and maintaining connections.

Actually, the label, education, is a dated one. In the current knowledge age, Donald Norris (1997) proposes that society will focus on learning rather than education and training. "As learning becomes recognized as the key source of competitive advantage and is fused into every activity and setting, we will truly enter the Age of Perpetual Learning. …