Saturday, September 21, 2013

Education--Medieval pedagogy still works!

Yesterday I visited Winchester College, UK.  What an experience!  This school, which was established in 1382, is one of England's oldest public schools, providing education for boys between the ages of 13-18.  I was there to introduce them to Wake Forest University.   I was welcomed with warmth and great interest.  I had lunch with the boys in one of the eleven houses.  The conversation was wonderful.  This is what I saw:  Young boys filled with energy, talking animatedly about the lessons of the morning as well as the football match to be played against Eton later on in the weekend; faculty taking time to have tea with an unknown university representative (me) in order to write a suitable recommendation letter for one of their top pupils; intellectual energy everywhere----AND NOT A CELL PHONE IN SIGHT.  OH, yes, the boys had them.  And the classrooms were equipped with state of the art devices.  But I walked the campus for almost an entire day, meeting with faculty, students, and administrators, touring buildings, seeing a demonstration of rackets (?), having tea in the headmaster's dining room----AND NOT A CELL PHONE IN SIGHT.

The primary mode of conversation all day long at Winchester was face to face.  Face to face teaching, face to face learning, face to face dining, face to face sports competition, face to face chapel worship, face to face debate.  Yes, it is a bit medieval--this ancient place of learning from the end of the medieval period.  But the face to face is working and has a special ancient charm to it.

 As we move forward with our digital platforms and all of the wonderful treasures that they bring, I hope that we can hold on to personal, face to face encounters.  It makes such a difference.  Even though we can hold the world in our palm now, we still need to see the face of another human being and know for sure that we are connected in deep and meaningful ways to our world--though flesh and blood, not just algorithms and  smart phones.

Much good remains in medieval education!  Human encounters are still valuable in learning.  See it here .

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