Before I came to America, I might never systematically think about what is the essence of higher education, how to establish it, and to what approach to realize it. Although, ironically, I’ve been studied in schools for eighteen years. This is a rather common phenomenon, to some extent, in the system of China’s high (and higher) education.Despite that there are several educators who care about the essence of higher education, and try every hard to make a difference in the distorted system of education. Massive educators and learners are still in an old-fashioned way of cramming teaching, especially those who are remote from cities and metropolitans. Web-sources are said to be complicated (generally harmful) and should be prohibited for the sake of protection. Textbooks are prepared for learning the uniformed answers for tests and exams. It seems that the students are just receivers of knowledge, or more crudely speaking, receivers of words that may make little sense to them. I don’t mean to demean the educators and learners of my country. With the increasing openness and development, more and more attentions are paid to promote the structural reform of China’s education system. However, problems still exist, and we still need to face them and overcome them.
From China to America, I find myself really change a lot. Learning is no longer one-way process and words that make up for knowledge are making sense. As I learn from primary school to graduate school, from domestic class to international lecture, from paper contents to online resources, I realize what is the essence of higher education and how the higher education should work. Just like the saying in the video “From knowledgeable to knowledge-able” (Michael Wesch), it is not about meaning-SEEKING, it is ultimately about meaning-MAKING. Given the cheaply easy way of searching knowledge nowadays, higher educators and learners should take the responsibility of, not only spreading pieces of knowledge, but inspiring ways of creation, through connecting, organizing, sharing, collecting, collaborating, and publishing.
Sometimes, we may struggle for what is meaning and what is meaningful. Start from the very first day of school, we are told to seek the meaning of life. We always know we should, but we often forget why we should. Why we should seek the meaning of life? Because we want to make our lives meaningful. The ultimate goal is not about seeking a meaning that is suitable for our lives, it is about MAKING our own lives meaningful. There never exists a destination locating somewhere for we to seek. For every step we take, every choice we make, we are making our lives meaningful and unique. In order to achieve that goal, we need to keep learning. Higher education is such an approach that help nurture our abilities for lifelong learning. Not for a single expertise skill, not for a little publishable idea, but for abilities to absorb, extend, and create knowledge.
Higher Education itself is a public good that can benefit every humanity. To understand the essence of higher education is, therefore, significantly important for every educator and learner. I hope people in my country can reflect on what is the essence of higher education and make use of higher education to promote the growth and development of the society as a whole.
To the end:
I remember in my old days, I was scared of pronouncing my opinions. I always phrased my standpoints in mind but didn’t try to say it loud. And as time went by, I was more scared of saying and even less involved in thinking. I realized that this is a vicious circle that I need to get rid of. Now, I am trying to be more active, think critically and talk properly. This is my first time blogging and expressing my thinking and opinions, I’m so excited that I start my blogging life. However, I am not an expert in using English, which is a second language for me. Please notify me for any confusion or misunderstanding that may upset you. I appreciate of anyone’s kindly understanding.