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Broadening the curriculum

Toward liberal knowledge

Author - John Heywood


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1   There is very little published on the NCTA. Silver (1990: Ch. 1) who explored the literature found two studies that are reported in theses by Davis (1979) and Heywood (1969). These paragraphs are based on a survey of teacher, diplomate and student attitudes to liberal studies in Heywood (1969).

2   'Red brick' a term very much in vogue at the time, refers to the Victorian universities –Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield that had redbrick buildings. Bruce Truscott (1943) coined the term as the title of an influential book.

3   One study compared students from Northampton College of Advanced Technology (which subsequently became City University) with university students (see Marris 1964).

For a summary of research in technological education at the time see Heywood and Abel (1965).

4   “Difficulties in the way of formal liberal studies were summed up in the words of three diplomates: (1) It is only partly fulfilling a function. A university offers a liberal education in an informal manner. The deliberate attempt to teach liberal studies to make up for the loss of this education fails by the very fact that it is a formal attempt. The views of those receiving liberal studies are blamed by their technological and even scientific background. One tutor with a background in the arts cannot balance this, it takes more people (students) of the same age group in informal organisation before keen debate can be stimulated. (2) Having had experience of both university and CAT I am sure that the average student has a greater chance of receiving a ‘liberal’ education at a CAT. This is almost entirely due to the extra lectures there. At university there exists a large diversity of society meetings, some of high standard, but very few lectures which are an integral part of the course. The immense potential of a university in this field lies in its vastly better library. CAT libraries should be more exhaustive and include a balanced proportion on subjects not studied there. Access should also be improved. (3) For a student to participate in and interest himself in liberal studies, it appears the following should be present: (a) the student must feel he has the time to devote to them, i.e., he must not be hampered by his studies. (b) The subjects must be presented in a stimulating, attractive manner, and by a competent person. (c) The incentives for, and benefits of, taking liberal studies should be drawn to the student’s attention. All too often, he is so more concerned with his formal studies, that he doesn’t realise what benefits he will derive from them. (d) Needless to say adequate liberal studies should be available.” These quotations concluded the chapter on liberal studies in Heywood 1969: 396/97.

5   T. H. Marshall’s essay Professionalism in Relation to Social Structure and Policy is reprinted in Marshall (1963). The full quotation: ‘An organised profession admits recruits by means of an impartial test of their knowledge and ability. In theory they are selected on merit, but it is merit of a particular kind which usually must be developed and displayed in a particular prescribed way. A narrow road leads into the profession through certain educational institutions. How far this favours social mobility depends on whether these institutions are open to the masses, so that merit can win recognition in all classes. Granted that broadening of the educational ladder typical of modern democracies, the system of official examination is more favourable to mobility than one of arbitrary appointment or casual promotion. But the chance to move comes early, during school days. Once it has been missed and a career has been started at a non-professional level the whole system of formal qualifications makes movement at a later stage well nigh impossible. There is another point. In the church or the army, in law or medicine, a person at the top of the profession is on top of the world. He/she admits no superiors. But many of these new semi-professions are really subordinate grades placed in the middle of the hierarchy of modern business organisation. The educational ladder leads into them but there is no ladder leading out. The grade above is entered by a different road starting at a different level of the educational system. Social structure, insofar as it reflects occupational structure, is frozen as soon as it emerges from the fluid preparatory stage of schooling. Mobility between generations is increased, but mobility during the working life of one generation is diminished.

[…]’ Hence the increased demand to attend university and the search for points so that one gets as high up the hierarchy of programmes and colleges in the system as possible.

In the UK the current situation is very complex because there is evidence that many of the generation fostered by the baby boomers are downwardly mobile and are creating what has been called a sunken middle class (see Willetts 2010. See also article in The Sunday Times, Review section 17 January 2010.)

It is possible to infer that a similar situation exists in the USA and that the lower social classes in this respect become increasingly disadvantaged. See Report of an Education Trust study summarised in the Washington Post, 4 January 2010. See also in respect of the UK the first leader in The Times, 15 January 2010.

6   The comments on employment are based on material in Youngman et al. (1978) and some recent articles in the Irish press.

7   Barbara Oilschacher President of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association wrote this in the Chicago Daily Herald, 4 January 2010

8   Newman’s theory of knowledge was originally stated in a University sermon no 14 on Wisdom, as contrasted with Faith and with Bigotry preached on Whit-Sunday 1841. The quotations are from this sermon and not The Idea of a University. There are other important aspects of this theory in other sermons in Newman (1890).

9   The quotation is from The Idea of a University. I offered an illustration of this point in respect of the Intermediate and leaving Certificate Curriculum (high school) in Heywood (1977).

10   I have argued elsewhere that a wide variety of teaching techniques will be necessary to achieve these goals. (See Heywood 2008.) Project-based learning goes some way to meeting these goals provided that it is designed to establish or develop a knowledge base within an interdisciplinary framework on which the future transfer of learning depends. Assessment needs to be made of what knowledge has been learnt and the student’s understanding of how it fits into the general picture. Projects are enormously motivating for many students and can help them develop skills that other techniques cannot. (See pp. 324ff of Heywood 2000.)

11   Newman’s point is supported by the first diplomate response recorded in Ref. 8. Some CATs had residence, the best known being Loughborough. Some research was done in that period on residence in both the CATs and universities. The Society for Research into Higher Education published a monograph (no 1, 1966) on Student Residence in both universities and CATs.

12   See also Krathwohl (1964). Arising from criticisms a revised taxonomy was published in Anderson and Krathwohl (2001). For a discussion of the objectives movement in higher education see Heywood (2000).

13   The goals of enterprise learning are taken from Heywood (1994).

14   The report of the Sheffield Personal Skills Unit is summarised more recently in Heywood (2005).

15   Carter’s categories were: mental skills; information skills; action skills; social skills; mental quality; attitudes and values; personal characteristics; spiritual knowledge; factual knowledge and experiential knowledge.

16   See Chapter 12 for remarks on interdisciplinary studies in Heywood (2008 note 23). Chapter 13 of the same reference for discussion of the Perry and King and Kitchener models of development. Meeting these goals is extremely difficult to achieve in modular systems. Some attempts have been made in engineering, as for example the EPICS programme at the Colorado School of Mines. The total modular structure would have to be designed specifically to meet these goals. See discussion in note 20.

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