Learn: Lifelong Learning in High-

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18 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 7 μήνες)

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Teaching Students to Learn How to
Learn: Lifelong Learning in High
-
Technology, Higher
-
Education

Prof. Sumit Ghosh

sumit.ghosh@ieee.org

Computer Science Department

University of Texas

Speaker Presentation

Indo
-
US Workshop on Effective Teaching at the College/University Level
(IUWETCUL ‘11)

February 10
-
12, 2011, IIIT Delhi
(Dwarka, Sector III), India



Tradition of Higher Education in the US


In

the

past,

genuine

teachers

were

few,

idealistic,

wouldn’t

teach

anyone

they

deemed

unworthy

and

unethical,

sort

of

elitist

model


Then,

US

led

a

new

model



formal,

open
-
to
-
all,

public

education

system


Starting

in

the

early

1900
s,

universities

started

to

emerge,

eventually

leading

to

the

extensive

higher
-
education

infrastructure

that

we

see

today
.


For

past

70

years,

students

would

routinely

enroll

in

higher

education

programs,

obtain

diplomas

upon

graduation,

then

find

useful

employment


Occasionally,

a

specific

area

(Aerospace

industry

in

1970
s)

would

fall

out

of

favor,

government

step

in

with

funds

to

provide

training

in

a

new

emerging,

high
-
tech

area
.


At

the

highest

level

of

higher
-
educational

evolution,

Bell

Labs

Research,

IBM

Research,

Xerox

PARC,

GE

Schenectady

CR&D



expose

select

individuals

to

leading

science

and

technology
;

they

would

create

next

generation

ideas
.

Ex
.

transistor,

computer,

laser,

C,

Unix,

LAN,

parallel

processors,

etc
.


Clearly,

with

the

nature

of

high
-
tech

higher

education

so

complex,

self
-
learning

must

have

been

rendered

obsolete
.

So

why

are

we

discussing

this

issue?



Why is Learning How to Learn, Important?


Explore

three

needs/reasons/perspectives/trends


First,

an

urgent

need


Sovereign

debt

crises

worldwide,

education

on

the

chopping

block

in

US,

UK,

Italy,

Spain,

France,

Baltic

states,

Germany,

Egypt


What

are

the

nations’

leaders

thinking?

At

best,

they

are

confused

whether

higher

education

will

bring

back

the

economy
;

at

worst,

they

never

understood

the

role

of

higher

education
.


Private

universities

trimming

budgets
;

state

universities

facing

unprecedented

and

massive

budget

cuts
.

University

of

California,

University

of

Arizona

systems

already

instituted

furloughs
.


Near
-
zero

hiring

of

junior

faculty
;

senior

professors

will

be

encouraged

to

retire


With

skeleton

faculty,

students

won’t

be

able

to

complete

programs

easily


Worse,

difficult

to

find

competent

professors

to

teach

the

subtle

scientific,

mathematical,

computational,

and

engineering

skills

that

are

inherent

in

high
-
technology
.

A

crisis

is

coming
.


High
-
tech

education

indispensable

to

obtaining

high
-
paying

jobs


Those

who

have

mastered

self
-
learning/self
-
teaching

will

have

a

clear

edge


Look

at

Industry,

the

supposed

bedrock

of

our

industrial

age


Giant

industrial

companies

such

as

GE,

Verizon,

and

others

have

been

secretly

bailed

out

by

the

US

Federal

Reserve

to

the

tune

of

billions

of

dollars
.

They

are

failing

and

the

evidence

is

undeniable
.

Something

is

seriously

wrong
.




Why is Learning How to Learn, Important? (Cont’d)


Explore

three

needs/reasons/perspectives


Second,

a

growing

trend


In

the

past,

an

individual

worked

for

a

single

company,

lifelong


Today

(circa

2005
),

an

average

CSE

engineer

changes

jobs

17

times


Employer

no

longer

finds

degree

from

elite

institution

worth

beyond

a

few

years


Diploma

from

elite

institution

no

longer

guaranteed

ticket

to

lifelong

good

career


Degree

can

help

land

a

good

first,

second

job
;

definitely

not

tenth

job
.

How

one

uses

one’s

knowledge

to

solve

never
-
before
-
seen

problems

becomes

key


Traditional

knowledge

imparted

in

traditional

way

is

no

longer

relevant


A

talented

and

motivated

person

with

a

degree

from

a

less

known

school

can

surpass

a

person

with

degree

from

an

elite

institution


Typical

elite

schools

charge

$
200
,
000

for

4
-
year

program
;

less

well
-
known

school

costs

$
40
,
000


Today,

US

students

carry

unprecedented

debt

(
$
5

trillion),

which

cannot

be

discharged

in

bankruptcy

court
;

interest

on

unpaid

debt

keeps

accumulating


Per

NY

Times

(Jan

2011
),

top

law

schools

(U

Chicago,

Columbia)

have

altered

student

grades

to

make

them

appear

superior

students

in

the

current

era

of

very

high

unemployment
.

Why?

Is

it

that

they

are

unsure

of

the

education

they

are

imparting

in

their

programs?


By

2045
,

average

life

expectancy

will

be

125
.

People

will

be

healthy,

mental

faculties

intact,

work

until

their

90
s
.

Clearly,

people

will

pursue

multiple

careers

in

their

lifetimes
.



Why is Learning How to Learn, Important? (Cont’d)


Explore

three

needs/reasons/perspectives


Third,

a

longer
-
term

need


Helps

one

grow

independently,

migrate

to

new

jobs

and

careers,

and

remain

fulfilled

lifelong,

without

becoming

excessively

dependent

on

the

security

of

retirement

(Lawyer

becomes

surgeon

at

age

70
?)


Foster

tremendous

burst

of

creativity,

which

will

cause

society,

nation,

and

civilization

to

leap

forward


Per

history,

virtually,

all

great

minds

were

self
-
taught,

examples

including

Ramanujan,

Leonardo

da

Vinci,

Lincoln,

and

others
.


Inference



learning

how

to

learn

will

become

the

most

important

paradigm,

not

only

for

surviving

but

thriving
.



What Went Wrong?


US

embarked

on

mass
-
scale

education,

for

the

greater

good


Noble

intent

but

flawed

implementation
.

Worked

good

for

70

years

and

we

have

mistakenly

started

to

think

that

this

paradigm

had

been

in

practice

forever


True

education

is

one
-
on
-
one
.

Why?

Every

individual

is

endowed

by

Nature

with

unique

capabilities

and

limitations


A

genuine

teacher,

driven

by

spontaneous

compassion,

reaches

out

to

each

student’s

“education

blind

spots”

and

illuminates

them
.

Confucius’

story!


A

mass
-
scale

education,

where

faculty

teaches

30
-
200

students,

is

flawed
.


This

is

a

business

model,

driven

by

immediate

profitability


Education

is

not

about

bottom

line

but

underlies

the

future

of

our

very

existence
.

Without

education,

we

will

wage

wars

and

destroy

ourselves
.


My

belief



we

may

have

unwittingly

created

mindless

drones

to

run

factories,

VLSI

fabrication
-
lines,

and

software

mill
-
factories
;

however,

they

are

incapable

of

thinking,

forget

innovation


We

haven’t

done

justice

to

the

individual

person
.

Thus,

this

approach

is

not

sustainable

over

the

long

run
.


What

is

happening

to

US,

UK,

Japan,

and

Europe

today,

namely

massive

layoffs,

will

come

to

India,

soon


Flawed

implementation

have

given

rise

to

an

entitlement

mentality



spend

money,

get

diploma,

deserve

high
-
paying

job


Lost

is

the

truth

that

the

true

purpose

of

education

is

to

serve

humanity

in

one’s

unique

ways



Proposed Approaches


Students

find

it

hard

to

self
-
learn

because

we

spoon

feed

them


Knowledge

is

doubling

every

2
.
5

years
;

so,

push

knowledge

down

the

students’

throats


Immediate

instructor

evaluation

reflects

a

sense

of

impatience,

short
-
term

view,

and

immediate

regurgitation
.


No

consideration

that

knowledge

takes

time

to

gestate

and

will

express

itself

years

into

the

future
.


No

understanding

of

long
-
term

nature

of

Nature
.

Civilization

is

intended

to

run

for

millions

of

years


Ironically,

we

are

condemning

our

students

to

obsolescence

and

stagnancy,

fast


Story

of

US

Liberty

ships

and

ship

building

skills



what

happens

to

the

individual?

[At

issue

is

whether

the

nation

as

a

whole

is

important

or

the

laid
-
off

individual’s

anguish

and

frustration

is

of

any

concern
.

While

this

is

a

matter

of

perspective,

the

US

Constitution

clearly

considers

the

individual’s

right

to

pursue

happiness

supreme

and

holds

the

individual

above

all

groups,

organizations,

and

governments
.
]


Knowledge

of

fundamental

principles

is

changing,

technology

is

changing

even

faster
.


Old

Chinese

saying
:

Only

a

fool

knows

for

sure

what

he

is

doing
;

a

wise

man

keeps

on

guessing


Richard

Feynman

(Nobel

Laureate

in

Physics)

writes,

We

are

constantly

guessing

Nature


In

my

research

experience,

everything

is

evolving

helically
;

you

just

have

to

have

eyes

to

see

it


Need

a

worldwide

debate



characteristics

of

teachers,

teaching/learning

mechanisms

to

help

students

cultivate

self
-
learning

while

pursuing

regular

course

material
;

and

books

and

other

resources


Examples

of

Alfred

Nobel’s

dynamite

invention

and

unfair

termination

of

Julie

Dodd
.



Questions/Suggestions/Comments

sumit.ghosh@ieee.org

Conclusions


To

Prof
.

Sharan

and

all

my

teachers

at

IIT

Kanpur,

please

accept

my

gratitude

for

opening

my

eyes

and

for

teaching

me

how

to

learn
.


I

am

convinced

that

the

nation,

which

correctly

implements

“learning

how

to

learn,”

will

become

the

next

“Great

Economic

Region
.