On January 13, 2017, Cathy N. Davidson’s article “The Future of Education is Now” was published in Anthropology News.
As Davidson writes in the article:
We must radically reform higher education to meet the most pressing needs of our age.
It’s Taco Day at Meadowlark Retirement Community in Manhattan, Kansas.
“The students usually sit with the other residents,” the host says, pointing to a round table with crisp white table linens at the opposite end of the dining room, beyond the buffet line. “But today they reserved a table for your visit.”
I’m writing a book on the future of higher education, profiling innovators, educators, and students all over the United States who are remaking pedagogy, courses, requirements, majors, and minors to make college more relevant to the challenges students face today. I’m here today to interview students in “Anthropology of Aging: Digital Anthropology,” taught by Professor Michael Wesch, associate professor of anthropology and university distinguished teaching scholar at Kansas State University. Wesch was the 2008 Professor of the Year, an award given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He is one of the most famous profs at K-state or anywhere, for that matter. His YouTube videos have been viewed somewhere over ten million times.
My personal favorite, “A Vision of Students Today” begins with a grainy, slightly sinister entrance into an empty lecture hall, in noir-ish black-and-white, with an epigraph in white letters from Marshall McLuhan:
Today’s child is bewildered when he enters the 19th century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, schedules.
The world has changed dramatically since 1967 when McLuhan wrote those words. No one talks about information scarcity anymore. The Internet has changed our typical complaint to “information overload.” Yet school still retains the fragments, patterns, subjects, schedules, and other divisions designed specifically for the second Industrial Age, the era of the telegraph and the assembly line.