[embed]https://vimeo.com/162711752[/embed] Education is vitally important to the success of our country on all fronts: politically, socially, and economically. It always has been and always will be. However, how we educate students and the entire assumptions around University life have not changed much.
IT’S EASY FOR LEADERS TO GET SUCKED INTO BELIEVING THAT THE THINGS THAT WORKED DECADES AGO ARE STILL EFFECTIVE.
The truth of the matter is some things need to change, and some things really should stay the same. We need to master things like English, Math, and other core disciplines. But there are also subject matters around App development and social media that didn’t exist a decade ago yet are important to the current conditions of our culture.
Therefore, I suggest it’s time to reframe our approach to higher education.
Shift: Education should become more local.
We are investing a lot of time, money, and effort at SEU to coordinate with local churches to provide a similar on-campus experience but in a more localized fashion. The prevailing assumption by traditionalists are that students should leave wherever their live, come to a college or University campus, live on-campus, and then leave after graduation. This simply isn’t practical any more for many students.
But we have to take into account that not every student is traditional. Some adults never started college or they weren’t able to finish. Further, some have obligations with aging parents, job, families, etc. make it impossible for them to up-end their lives and move onto a traditional campus for a few years while they complete their degree.
Does that mean we should close ranks and draw the line? Of course not! What that means is we have to be more creative and offer more opportunities for students whatever their age or circumstance. We are already experiencing tremendous success and growth with online education, and we are moving head-long into education through strategically chosen local campuses.
The potential for SEU to impact local communities and connect our educational programs with a broader base of adults and families who can, as a result of their study and experience, enrich their lives and prepare for what God has next for them is greater than ever.
Shift: Education should place a greater emphasis on critical thinking than memorization.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for memorizing and recalling facts. But the feedback we get from the people who employ our graduates and the expectations of the families and individuals who invest their time and money into SEU tell us that critical thinking skills are much more valuable than simply recalling information.
That means our classroom experience and degree programs have to make room for more dynamic exercises that prompt students to create decision criteria, observe the context of the challenge, and put together an action plan to resolve the tension. This type of thinking and approach prepares students for real life. That’s what they will do when the leave SEU, so it’s our job to make sure our graduates are good thinkers, confident leaders, and ready to operate at optimal levels after graduation.
Shift: Education shouldn’t end when students get their degree.
I believe every leader isn’t a student for a period of their lives; Instead, they are a student for their entire lives. As the old saying goes, “Leaders are learners.” This is critical to ensure we remain relevant and ready in the midst of the rapidly changing dynamics of the world in which we live, operate, and lead.
Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in 2007. In just nine years (less than the time it takes to start undergraduate study and complete a doctorate), it has become central to how we communicate with and engage the world around us. Wow. Just let that sink in. That’s incredibly fast. This is just one way the speed of change can quickly outpace the speed of education.
As I talk about in my book. living into our Divine Design (God’s DNA breathed into us at the moment of creation) is an ongoing process. It’s about the journey more than the destination.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
This means we have to open ourselves up to thinking about post-graduate work inside and outside the structure of degree programs. We have to make it possible for our institutions to be connected to the needs of business, ministry, and the world to ensure we are relevant, accessible, and affordable to students when and where they need us to be.
Education is not an industry that is known for being on the cutting edge. And I’m not suggesting that we live on the edge just because I think it’s “cool.” Rather, we must learn to see things from the perspective of our students so we can build a bridge to a better and brighter future.
Some things need to stay the same while others, most definitely, need to change.
Reflect: If you could change one thing about education today, what would it be? Why?