Holistic Approach to Faculty
This semester has brought a number of insights into the roles and expectations of faculty, the impact of change, and differences in education on an international level. Add to that a number of personal observations drawn from interactions with those in my department, office, field, and others interested in the professoriate. Throw in a number of personal challenges and an idea has begun to take shape in my mind. We are seeing a move towards building a higher education experience that recognizes, supports, and develops the whole student. It seems that a similar perspective should be taken with faculty.
We aren't going to propel students into the 21st century ready to create the future if we aren't also willing to afford faculty a similar opportunity to grow and create an individual experience of the professoriate. If we are going to continue the propagation of the term life-long learner, then let us truly honor that among our faculty as well as our student body. Let's give faculty credit for participating in activities, projects, collaboratives, and anything else that contributes to their growth as a professional, an educator, a citizen, and a person. We all have so much capacity for growth, but it is based in the skills we already possess and the ones we need to gain in order to continue reaching for our goals.
As much as I hated the way teaching assessment tools were used in the K-12 system, I have to admit I think there is some merit to their use - even in higher education. Such tools allow for individuals to identify strengths and areas for growth. They require educators to be forward thinking about their goals and to incorporate their interests (although I think this could be greatly expanded). In the end, the assessment tools should be used to identify the growth of the individual. Certainly, the tenure process could be amended by using a similar tool.
In the end, the change I would like to see higher education make is to be attuned to the individual differences, strengths, limitations, skills, and goals of both its students and its professors. I have sat in class with such a diverse group of my peers. Our different backgrounds, experiences, abilities, and concerns have shaped our conversations both in class and in our blogs. None of us conform to a single established template of what a "good student" should be, nor are we ever going to perfectly fit an unbending idea of what it means to be a "good professor." We all have so much to give and much of that seems to go unnoticed or under appreciated because it doesn't conform to the existing model of what it means to be a faculty member. Let those institutions who want to meet the needs of the student of tomorrow learn how to work with the faculty of tomorrow as well.