Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beyond the 'two cultures'

Jennifer Summit and Blakey Vermeule, The ‘Two Cultures’ Fallacy, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 1, 2018. Final three paragraphs:
As researchers from the Institute for the Future suggested in their "Future Work Skills 2020" report, "While throughout the 20th century, ever-greater specialization was encouraged, the new century will see transdisciplinary approaches take center stage." Projects that bring together scientists, engineers, artists, humanists, and social scientists in ways that bridge traditional disciplinary divides produce fresh approaches to complex questions. New knowledge requires new forms of education. Where 20th-century paradigms of teaching and learning emphasized disciplinary specialization, we now need "a new culture of learning" — to quote the title of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s 2011 book.

The challenge we face as educators is how to restore imagination and creativity to students who have come to associate education with the lack of those qualities. Rather than offering lip service and window dressing, we need to step far outside our dominant models of learning, thinking, and living. Schools discourage creative thinking, the educator Ken Robinson observes, in large part through their tendency to elevate "some disciplines over others." To counter this, he suggests, "we need to eliminate the existing hierarchy of subjects."

Rather than reinforce boundaries between disciplines and the value-laden hierarchies that keep them in place, we need to accept that studies in "imagination" and "humanity" are no less vital to work and citizenship than those of "facts" and "machines." This is the time for humanists and scientists, fuzzies and techies, to overcome the divisions of knowledge, culture, and value that separate them. Doing so will transform the disciplines themselves, and displace the oppositional framework that has for so long defined and divided them.

No comments:

Post a Comment