Philosophy of Higher Education workshop at the Defence Staff College

I had the pleasure recently to run a module workshop on "The Philosophy of Higher Education" in the Postgraduate Certificate course in Learning, Teaching and Assessment in Higher Education (PGCLTAHE) for recently appointed lecturers in Cranfield University's Defence and Security Department at the Defence Staff College at Shrivenham. Most of the participants could be described as late career entrants to the academic profession.

The slides are here:
http://www.slideshare.net/georgeroberts/philosophy-of-higher-education

And a topic map is here:
http://www.xmind.net/share/georgeroberts/xmind-768070/ (click on outline view to see all topics unfolded)

Having run this workshop twice back-to-back, I can see many improvements I would make were I to do it again.

At Shrivenham, the quality of the knowledge, argument and experience of the participants certainly made it a challenge. As Brookfield (2001) said, learners have the right to expect authenticity, credibility and reciprocity; to set ground rules, provide alternatives, exemplify models and give access to experience. This was a high-ability group: well read with many years of professional, commercial and military experience (one was a General). I don't know if I met their expectations in these regards, but they did engage forcefully and critically with the idea of a University as an instance of one of the great institutions of society with an important function of cultural reproduction. Universities are a part of – or provide a part of –  the answer to the question of the purpose of society. In response to an early question on what is "Philosophy of Higher Education", one participant cut the Gordian Knot: "what is it and how do we do it?" University is one of the places where the question of what the purpose (or function) of society (or our society) is addressed.

Reference

Brookfield, S. D. (2001). Through the lens of learning: how the visceral experience of learning reframes teaching. In Learning, Space and Identity (pp. 67-78). London: Paul Chapman, SAGE Publications in association with the Open University. 

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