Higher education strategies for the 21st century: philosophical foundations and the humanist approach
The paper is dedicated to a philosophical consideration of the transformation strategies for higher education, particularly those revealed by the current Covid-19 pandemic. The situation of the latter is presented as a particular form of the general VUCA characteristics of the today’s world of uncertainty, unpredictability and qualitative complexity (‘supercomplexity’). It is argued that the main result of our acknowledgement of the VUCA situation in the world for higher education is the image of the developed human personality becoming the main value and at the same time the main goal of higher education. Under the conditions of volatility and ambiguity, any existing ‘ready-made’ knowledge, as well as any instructions for effective rational behavior, turns to be inadequate. Because of that, it is no longer sufficient to have a set of ‘competences’ as a final result of the educational process at today’s university. Higher education has to turn to developing in its graduates certain multidisciplinary qualities, like critical independent thinking and ability to create one’s own knowledge, up to aiming at an all-round development of cultured personality. The paper argues that the education of critical and creative thinking is closely related to the transition to student-centered learning, as each individual student is to become a full-powered subject of the educational process according to one’s own interests, abilities and curricula, with the role of a teacher starting to resemble that of a moderator, the one who is to help his or her undergraduates to navigate through the vast ocean of available information in order for them to choose and to create their own, personal knowledge. The latter task is especially enforced by the distant and online learning having become popular during the Covid-19 pandemic: that form of learning puts especially high demands on self-discipline and self-responsibility of a student’s personality, while presenting itself as rather a supplement than a replacement to more traditional forms of higher education with personal communication between student and teacher.
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