Yet this time it’s different: The students are not just the toddler skipping to kindergarten; the teenager roving through highschool halls, or even the college freshmen with backpack, foot-locker, and laundry bin. The students today are the actual parents of these youths and young adults. They have jobs (or at least looking for one) with bills, mortgages, car-notes and responsibilities more than turning in homework.
Recent stats suggest the average college student is getting older, over 25, looking for an education. With many adults having to change jobs or keep-up with their career, going back-to-school is now a shared experience across generations. Thus, three (3) critical roles about this trend we must reconsider:
1) Changing the role of education: No longer should education be reduced to schooling with abstract facts and irrelevant concepts. Education is a part of life and living. So the content should change along with our mindset. We must view education not as an end, but a ‘continual beginning.’
2) Changing the role of ‘teacher’: Throughout the history of education, the teacher was the main character. The teacher was all-wise, all-knowing, keeper of ruler, chalk, and grade report. Today , the role of teacher must act as partner. A partnership where all parties have some knowledge, experience, and most importantly, details making learning a living story; an enlightened and educative soap opera at best.
3) Changing the role of society: When we see the news on education, they usually refer to elementary and secondary schooling. Rarely is their discussion about the adult learning community. I mean, learning beyond basic literacy, english as a second language, or the how-to, self-help presentation. Our society must include the 45-year-old mother of two enrolled as a first-year college student. Or a returning military veteran, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill headed for a new direction. And lastly, the unable-to-retire workers, who make very little and see the only way to make more is to pay the costs of classes: at night, on-line, or at their community college.
The alarm bell is ringing, and some of us have pressed the snooze far too many: We must get-UP!