Reflection on higher education

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.




6 thoughts on “Reflection on higher education

  1. I should practice myself for more writing. Though I have lots of thoughts and opinions in mind, I find it so hard to phrase out neatly and logically to the public. So I neeeeeed more writing. I understand this will be time-consuming in the very beginning. I am sure I can be better by practice and practice and practice. Looking forward to it.


  2. This was an awesome post! I enjoyed the broad overview of higher education from an international perspective and the comparisons between the higher ed systems in China and the US.

    “The ultimate goal is not about seeking a meaning that is suitable for our lives, it is about MAKING our own lives meaningful.” –> This is gold. You need to make your educational experiences meaningful too, even if you’re taking required classes that you don’t think you’re getting anything out of, you can try and find a way to get something out of it (either inside or outside of the classroom).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this positive reply. This is in fact my first blog. Feel pleased to have someone reading and commenting on my writing.
      Yeah, many times we have no alternative but to keep learning and keep going. If we can understand that what we are making and doing is meaningful, we are more likely to get involved and do more.


  3. Xin I really enjoyed reading your blog post! I can relate to the challenges of having English as a second language and how that plays a role in the writing and speaking processes that we need to engage in at all levels of interaction with others. I too found myself being more hesitant to speak up for myself after moving to Virginia and getting some reactions of annoyance over my accent or occasional word mix-up. I am also in the process of leaving that behind and letting go of any external pressure there may be and just go for it when expressing my opinion whether orally or in writing. Best wishes on your journey as well. I look forward to reading your posts and seeing your perspective on things!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Xin,
    Thank you for your posting your view on this topic. While reading the article I was wondering if knowledge is something that we can search outside ourselves. Information is something stored in many different forms and media. I would argue that knowledge is constructed and reconstructed as we make sense of our experiences, because we create and renew our understanding of information. And such a situation calls for lifelong learning, as you discuss in your article, because tools need to change and expertise is a tool that needs to remain relevant in our never-ending problem solving efforts.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hello Xin,
    I can totally relate to the higher education system, you’re trying to highlight in the post. I’m from India and both these asian countries share major aspects of the education system that you’re talking about. It is sad how one examination can totally change your life, either it brings you a rainbow or totally serves you rocks. Well.. it’s good to see that now you’re voicing your opinions. The post is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s