Now that I have suffered through one of the most frustrating semesters of my teaching career, I have decided to revisit an idea that occurred to me in 2008. This idea is to be my manifesto of higher education. What is this idea? It's quite direct...
Confrontation shall be the sum of all education!
Does this mean that I will become an overbearing "sage on the stage", still a sad fixture within higher education? Does this idea of confrontation mean I must adopt an adversarial attitude towards my students? No, this idea means that I must seriously think about my role as an educator. In order to confront the woefully inadequate preparation that too many of my students receive I can see they require three simple actions from me, to filter information, to assess basic proficiency, and to facilitate engagement.
The first two actions are relatively easy for me, since, I am considered a subject-matter expert. I can, with a PhD in chemistry, find a myriad of real-world applications that capture the essence of different chemical concepts, and I can design challenging assessments that push my students to their intellectual limits. The real challenge comes from the third role, facilitating engagement, a problem that many of those in my PLN (Professional Learning Network) can attest to being one of the most challenging parts of education.