Education today remains firmly rooted in the assumption that students who have collected enough information and demonstrated that they understand it should be able to move up Bloom’s taxonomy into the application stage. The goal altogether was and is to measure the mental understanding or retention of information about a whole range of fields and subjects about which the student needs to care nothing for they will never "have to use it again.”
It does not matter whether the methods are teacher-centric or student-centric. As long as the whole experience maintains its info-centric bias, it will fail to produce the kind of results that most students, parents, teachers, and administrators are looking for.
The consumerization of higher education may be the most successful deception of the 21st century. Entitlement has been taught by the fundamental assumption of nearly every educational practice: it is possible to be passively educated. In other words, an education can happen to you if you are willing to spend enough time and money to acquire it.
As educational theory has wrestled through a response to the different needs of a vast and varied group of students, a fundamental principle has been lost: everyone involved in this process has something in common. We are all human. Race, religion, sexual orientation, learning style, and economic status are all factors that affect an individual expression of the human experience. However, when they become the definition of human experience, there is nothing left to do but fight. Taxonomies divide for the sake of analysis and understanding, but they cannot define. Anthropology, religion, sociology, education, and finance are all subjects of study to which almost every student is exposed. They have learned to define themselves on the basis of the information they have received and efforts to do something reflect the reality that they have not learned how to be human.
As the problems have grown more pronounced, a whole series of supplementary courses have found their way into the better educational programs that cover a range of topics like racial reconciliation, sexual identity, leadership development, study habits, and life skills. It is supposed that more information on these subjects will help to solve the problem, but the methods of delivery only serve to exacerbate the issue. Participants now have a more varied and complex language by which to emphasize their unique differences and shortcomings of everyone else. Ten hours worth of information about leadership is only useful for someone who already has responsibility to lead. It is not enough to hear about the general experience of those who are a racial minority in a particular context – you have to actually become friends with someone different than you. I am not making a case here for experiential learning, but a suggestion that a simple change in the structure of the learning experience might completely shift student outcomes.
Today’s students have learned how to fit themselves into particular taxonomies and may define themselves according to various elements of the subject matter, but no one has taught them that what you do with money is more important than how much of it you have. No one has implied that sexual orientation is less important than sexual activity. Religious beliefs may be a total contradiction to one’s lifestyle and racial differences have superceded attempts at relational bridges. Every one of these hot-button problems in our culture can be traced to the practice of education employed in the home, the school, the church, the business, and everywhere else. Information-based education has transferred large quantities of data into students minds about the world they live in enabling them to argue fruitlessly about definitions while blindly groping out a space to survive within the global economy. Those who succeed will not be the ones that learned to conform, but the ones who accidentally stumbled across a way of knowing that empowered them to become more fully human.