This book should be required reading for every student entering college. In it, Ken Bain provides concrete tips for success and uses many examples ofThis book should be required reading for every student entering college. In it, Ken Bain provides concrete tips for success and uses many examples of real students to illustrate each point. Most of the advice is not surprising; maybe it even seems obvious but judging by many of the students I teach these points need to be made and students need continuous reminding.
Among the insights he discusses the need for successful students to take ownership of their own learning. After all, learning is something each individual does not something that is done to them. Students need to be active in their own learning.
Also, students need to focus on this deep learning instead of obsessing over grades. It is quite possible to "succeed" in college by getting great grades but learning very little. Is this really the success that we want college students to embrace? Students need to embrace a growth mindset and be able to deal with failure and learn from it. This is much better than having a fixed mindset which is the view that a student's ability is something they either have or don't and there's not much they can do to improve if they are failing.
Successful students cultivate curiosity, look for interesting problems to challenge them, and have the ability to embrace ambiguity as opposed to always looking for the one right answer.
Much of this can be difficult in the classroom, especially if the professor does not encourage or support these traits. But, it is precisely in such environments that successful students need to take charge of their own learning and embrace the skills Bain outlines.
Of course, you don't have to embrace these skills to get good grades. You can study just enough to memorize just enough to pass the exams and then forget what you just memorized. You can keep doing this for most, if not all of, your classes and rack up plenty of good grades; maybe even get on the honor roll and graduate with top honors. But, so what? What have you learned? What will your college degree really be worth after spending 4-6 years learning just enough to get by without really digging any deeper?
Other college students will be putting these skills to good use and thriving in ways that will ultimately count for more in their lives. They will have recognized that learning is a lifelong pursuit, it's enriching and fun and, while it won't be their primary focus, deep learning will also likely lead them to the career success that most students are pursuing. ...more
Disruptive innovation is coming to higher education and this book provides the roadmap. Much of the technology is currently in place and many studentsDisruptive innovation is coming to higher education and this book provides the roadmap. Much of the technology is currently in place and many students are beginning to take advantage. But, the full implementation of what Kevin Carey calls the University of Everywhere will take time.
Imagine being able to learn what you want, when you want at virtually no cost. Imagine getting a quality education without having to go thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. That is what the University of Everywhere will entail. No, this isn't just cheer leading for massive open online courses (MOOCs) though they will have a part to play.
No, this is about freeing knowledge and access to knowledge and about life long learning. While the technology for the online portion of this is well developed one important barrier remains to be addressed which is credentialing. At this point universities and colleges are able to charge expensive tuition for the official accredited credentials that students seek. But, with platforms like Mozilla's Open Badges this too will change. At some point in the not too distant future you will be able to learn and document your learning easily and with little financial commitment. And, you will own both your learning and the documented evidence of it. Just as in health care where the trend is moving towards patient's owning their own health date, so too in education the trend will be towards individuals owning their own transcripts as opposed to universities owning them.
A common feature of industries in the midst of disruptive innovation is denial. Predictably many are continuing to express denial that there are any massive changes coming to higher education or that these changes will affect them or their institutions directly. Many colleges and universities will be slow to see these changes coming and will not adapt well to them. Others will take tentative steps toward adaptation. The question will be whether these steps will be too little too late.
The precise timetable for these disruptions is impossible to predict. It could take another generation or it could happen quicker. But, one way or the other there will be disruptions. It is inevitable. Inevitable because the knowledge that universities are currently charging for mostly available elsewhere for free. Once the credentials are also available and employers begin using them as indicators of skills and hiring based on them there will be little left for many colleges to do.
The universities and colleges that survive will do so by being remarkable. They will adapt by offering services their students want and need whether these are directly related to their mission or not. They will survive by being flexible and open to experimentation. Unfortunately, the higher education system is not well equipped to be adaptive or flexible in this way.
Carey has given a comprehensive argument for how change will unfold and should be regarded by colleges and universities as a call to take action now in order to survive and even thrive in the midst of massive change. Will they take this opportunity or remain in denial?...more
Curiosity. We see it brimming over in young children. Then it slowly wains. By the time these children reach the college classroom it has gone extinctCuriosity. We see it brimming over in young children. Then it slowly wains. By the time these children reach the college classroom it has gone extinct in many of them. Sadly, the very thing that is supposed to be supporting our curiosity is a large factor in its decline: schooling. The focus on answers over questions drives out curiosity in favor of certainty. The fear of being wrong drives out curiosity in favor of certainty. The ubiquity of information drives out curiosity in favor of trivia.
Ian Leslie's book does a good job of addressing not only the importance of curiosity but also why it declines and how to preserve it. As he points out "curiosity is vulnerable to benign neglect." It needs to be cultivated and supported. It is a habit that needs to be fostered by continued practice. Often we don't get that practice. Leslie relates several compelling stories related to the need for curiosity. The first one comes from business professor Robert Mittelstaedt in his book Will Your Next Mistake be Fatal? "Titanic received many incoming messages warning of ice, but there is no mention of her inquiring of others for updates or more information. What if someone was curious enough to ask for more information from the ships in the area?" As Leslie then points out, "afterward, several planners and shipbuilders involved admitted to having had questions about the ship's safety that they didn't raise in front of colleagues, for fear of appearing foolish."
Ahh, the fear of appearing foolish. Perhaps one of the biggest curiosity killers among students and even well-experience professionals. It is no wonder that Leslie discusses this as the first point of seven ways to preserve curiosity: stay foolish. Consider Socrates. He was told that he was the wisest of all men in Athens because he was aware of what he didn't know. He was not afraid to ask foolish questions. Very often these "foolish" questions revealed profound insights.
Speaking of knowing what he didn't know this relates to a second story Lesie tells about curiosity: the often ridiculed statement of Donald Rumsfeld where he said "There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns-the ones we don't know we don't know." While initially ridiculed the statement was later reevaluated and was recognized by linguist Geoffrey Pullum as "impeccable, syntactically, semantically, logically, and rhetorically."
One reason this is such a useful insight is that, as Leslie points out, "in order to feel curious, you have to be aware of a gap in your knowledge in the first place. The trouble is, most of us, most of the time, go around thinking we know everything."
One of Leslie's last pieces of advice for preserving curiosity is to turn puzzles into mysteries. This is based on a distinction between the two that is discussed earlier in the book. "Puzzles have definite answers." On the other hand, "mysteries are murkier, less neat." The contain an uncertainty that puzzles do not. Puzzles focus on tactical questions such as "How many?" or "Where?" Mysteries force us to contemplate bigger "How?" or "Why?" questions.
So, ask more questions. Don't be afraid to seem foolish. Cultivate on enjoyment of learning and an appreciation of the mundane. Anything can be a source of curiosity. But, you have to be willing to open yourself to the opportunity when it presents itself. As Pasteur once said, "chance favors the prepared observer." Part of being prepared is to be curious....more