A few interesting pieces from the Chronicle and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) came out today. The CIC is a organization of about 600 independent liberal arts colleges and universities, and one of their most recent initiatives is "Securing America's Future: The Power of a Liberal Arts Education." Today (9/18) is a symposium bringing together many leaders in liberal arts education, and the CIC has published an essay titled "The Liberal Arts in Action: Past, Present and Future" as part of the campaign and the symposium. There's a related article in the CHE, titled "A Symposium Cautions Against Conflating Education with Job Training," a disappointing choice of words in my opinion. The article talks about the value of liberal arts education and is worth the read; I highly recommend "A Complete Education" which discusses how to enrich liberal arts education and what the author calls "applied disciplines" through experiential learning.
From the CHE, an article about a focus group of high school students and their reaction to the new College Scorecard: "What Actual High Schoolers Think of the College Scorecard." I took a look at the Scorecard yesterday and two of our numbers were incorrect (our retention rate is higher than reported and our total population of students is lower). It struck me as a good starting point for students and their families, but there's a lot more to the picture than the Scorecard data. The Scorecard does nothing to educate students and families about the educational experience and opportunities to extend and build upon what's learned in the classroom (study abroad, honors research, community outreach, etc) or the quality of the services and resources (career center, library, writing center, information technology, etc) that are part of the price tag. I understand the need for the Scorecard, and I hope it expands its coverage to include more information.
Our last class made me step back and consider why I feel so strongly about the value of a college/university education. I've worked at three institutions after earning my MLS (two research universities and here, at IWU), and even though each was very different in mission, scope, population and location, the focus of the faculty and staff and administrations at each place has been on creating an environment in which students (and faculty) can work together to ask questions, develop ideas, debate issues, create, experiment and share what they've learned. All students should have the chance to be a part of that experience.
I look forward to next week's discussion about shaping a curriculum - thanks everyone for a great few weeks.