Sunday, April 01, 2007

Rollins Colloquy

I live in the vain hope that someone may be paying enough attention to this blog to notice the large gap between my March 7th and March 31st posts. My aim is to post two or three times a week (ha!) So what happened?

Well a number of things. Spring break was crazy busy with the librarians' workshop on March 12th when we worked on the Olin Library's strategic directions, then the 13th was spent at St. Leo University with Brent Short , Director of the Library, who I am working with as part of the ACRL College Library Directors Mentor Program, and then I also participated in an online SOLINET workshop on Web 2.0: Social Software Applications for Libraries. More on that later.

Then a couple of weeks after Spring break, Les Lloyd, George Herbst and I went to Tacoma, WA for a NITLE workshop on Learning Spaces and Technology. More on that later as well.

But what really had my attention was the Rollins College Colloquy. I was asked to facilitate a panel with Duane Ackerman, Sally Ride and Anna Deavere Smith and the follow up Q&A. You can imagine this was a little nerve wracking. But it seemed to go off quite well because these three people are consummate professionals with some fascinating experiences and plenty of well articulated thoughts about the future of liberal education in the 21st century. Some of the things that came from them and from other panelists and speakers that most struck me include:

  • American parochialism in terms of language, geography, and cultural literacy is unacceptable.
  • In an age of fluid cultural production and ubiquitous access to (mis)information, some body of shared knowledge, a core curriculum, is necessary.
  • The ability of people to critically engage with information, data, and the media, to find, evaluate, and use information in their own work is only going to become more important in an age of disintermediation, and information overload, and technology is not going to solve this problem. Our students need to learn the skills of critical thinking and information literacy.
  • At least two speakers mentioned the importance of memorization. Particularly in an age that actively works to enable us to stop using our memories.
  • Predictably, C.P. Snow's Two Cultures got a good workout.
  • Many of the faculty were very concerned with how to create the conditions in which our students can take risks and learn from failure.

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