Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Using Philosophy to Develop Educational Strategies

Higher education has received some backlash for becoming too statistic and administrative oriented and not enough quality full-time faculty and learning. I read an interesting article in the June/July 2018 Philosophy Now Journal by Robert Michael Ruehl discussing the importance of friendship and philosophy in developing higher education strategy. His premise is that teaching is more than the numbers and needs a level of collaboration to create learning communities.

Colleges are becoming more like businesses using statistics like reduction assessments, cost benefit analysis and data to make their decisions. The consequence is that faculty have become more combative, don't work well together, fear job security and seek self-promotion through quantity over quality.

The author believes there is another way to design the working atmosphere of higher learning institutions. He draws upon the wisdom of Aristotle, Bacon, Lewis and Hunt.

Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics: "For without friends on one would choose to live, though he had all other goods" Friends create a better environment to work with.

Francis Bacon: "A man living alone is a beast or god." Friends help us make better decisions and support each other.

CS Lewis: Through the concept of agape we should work to strive for the same truth.

Mary Hunt: A deeper commitment to each other and a people that work toward peace.

In essence, the author feels that we can develop a better environment of personal development, integrity, and utilize diverse fields of knowledge for human development. Universities are places where intellectual collaboration and the unique create new value for humanity and society. They must be environments that support the unique intellectual curiosity that create intellectual breakthroughs.

It could be stated that statistics and data are very important but should not supplant common sense and intellectual expansion. Sometimes creativity and intellectual development move beyond statistics and is rarely developed where it can measured using previous constructs. If we are to encourage institutions to be generators of thought we have to not only use statistics but move beyond them.

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