There is much ado about student learning outcomes and accountability these days. We are challenged to identify specific outcomes, changes in student ability, which can be measured quantitatively. This is all well and good, as it reminds us to think critically about what we are doing. But, when examining learning and contemplating what it means to be an educated person, we should not limit our scope of inquiry to that which can be quantified. Doing that would really miss the boat. So much of “being educated” defies statistical evidence, and must be explored in the qualitative realm.
Thinking of our own days of formal higher education, undergraduate or graduate, can often be a source for insight. What really made us “educated?” Was it Question #12 on that chemistry exam on that rainy Thursday afternoon? Or was it much more than that? Perhaps gaining a love of learning? Perhaps understanding what critical thinking is? Or perhaps even beginning to believe that we are capable of success? Higher order learning experiences such as these did not likely come from any exam we might have taken.
Becoming a truly educated usually involves inspiration from another person, most likely a teacher. The word inspiration means the awakening of a spirit within us. In the case of education, this spirit is learning.
Who or what inspired each of us in our journeys in education and learning? I think a dialogue on this could enrich our quest for student learning outcomes; particularly those outcomes that involve inspiration.
Please post your thoughts.