BOOKS | Crisis on Campus: A bold plan for reforming our colleges and universities, by Mark C. Taylor (Knopf: 2010).
At THNK, we are advocates of extensive education reform so that it increasingly emphasizes personalized learning, offering each individual space to discover and develop his or her unique set of personal talents and passions. It is about time that we break open our thinking about what is valuable to learn, how, and by which methods, and start catering to a new generation that is increasingly living and learning in a world that looks nothing like the worlds in which our traditional education systems developed.
Mark Taylor’s recent book focuses specifically on American higher education and argues that a significant crisis is unfolding on campus. Higher education is no longer sustainable in terms of either the way it is financed or the way it is programmatically structured. At THNK, we are especially interested in this second bit.
Just like THNK, Mark Taylor calls for big changes in the way in which we view education. He argues that age-old traditions and practices that are still adhered to by the bulk of universities today have become outdated. This goes for things such as tenure and the valuing of research over teaching, all the way through to the staunch separation of academic departments that results in narrow specialization and the ongoing lack of real inter- or trans-disciplinary study.
Instead, he argues, we should make much better use of available technological opportunities to better cater education to the individual. In this light, he offers all sorts of examples of innovative solutions that emphasize the merging of the disciplines and use technology to do so effectively. He pleads that this will lead to higher education becoming more fulfilling for students and far more relevant to the networked world of the current era. And we could not agree more.