Schools today face many challenges. There is growing competition for students from local and even international institutions. New technologies and even newer teaching methods may threaten the very existence of many schools and certainly promise to change forever the way they do business. It is already possible to earn advanced degrees totally online.
ESL and other foreign language teachers can play an increasing role in the academic life of their schools. By the broad composition of their studies and the collaborative nature of their work language teachers are well placed to lead their schools into the 21st century if only their schools will allow and encourage them.
To see how this can be accomplished ironically, you have to look to the past. More than any other invention the Gutenberg Press brought about the end of the Middle Ages and introduced the Renaissance. But printing books, instead of copying them by hand, millions were allowed access to knowledge than ever before. We are living in a sort of "Cyber Renaissance". The same forces that allowed the Renaissance are working today. The internet is our generation's Gutenberg Press.
Just like then, there is too much information flowing for specialists and present educational policies to cope with. Just as five hundred years ago, what is needed is Renaissance men and woman: your "Web Leonardo da Vincis". This flies in the face of over fifty years of dogma. In almost every discipline the mantra has been "you have to specialize to accomplish anything". However, as long as we are in a renaissance this statement is not valid.
What society needs to realize is the enormous value of dilettantes and amateurs in all fields of endeavor especially when it comes to the web and collaboration. This has been demonstrated recently in even in fields as stratified as science and medicine. Besides the skills and competencies needed for today's faculty or workforce have not yet been codified. Which brings us to what our institutions of higher learning are doing about it.
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Author: Christopher Yukna