Archive for the ‘Online Education’ Category

The Technocrat and the Midwife: Two Models of Education

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 by Dale M. Coulter



Call the Midwife … 'We don't go out on bikes.'



There remains a fundamental tension in the American approach to education between the “utilitarian” model and the “liberal arts” model. It has been the case from the push toward higher education in the mid-nineteenth century with the importation of German models of learning. This tension is grounded in two competing impulses of American life: a pragmatic spirit and a democratic populism.

The pragmatic spirit in America drove the industrial revolution during the Gilded Age and Progressive Eras (1865-1920). It led to the creation of institutes whose primary task was to advance technological aptitude and discovery. These “institutes of technology” the most famous of which is MIT, began in the late nineteen century and have dotted the landscape ever since.

Democratic populism, on the other hand, was less about technological advance and more about forming the soul of individuals and thus the soul of a nation. Americans took  to heart Matthew Arnold’s admonition that a democracy must find a unifying principle beyond the monarch. This unifying principle would be a culture–a national identity grounded in common values–that shaped the individuals within it. While pluralism always questions what is common, democratic populism, at its best, pulled the nation back to the original ideals of “we hold these truths.” With its focus on exploring the ultimate ends of human existence, the liberal arts model aimed at the moral formation of students.

We need to acknowledge the tensions between these models and also the way in which each model conceives the role of the faculty member.

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Online Education

Friday, July 16th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

We are currently in a time of significant transition in terms of educational models. This transition is no different in significance than what occurred during the move from Cathedral schools to the university and from scholasticism to Renaissance humanism.

I wonder, what are your thoughts about online education, especially since Regent is fully committed to this new educational model.  My own attempts to evaluate what we do here at Regent is in terms of past attempts to renew education.

So, here is the framework in which I work:

  • Does online education allow for greater links to be forged between the church and the academy that Cathedral schools had and that was placed in jeopardy through the rise of universities?
  • Does online education allow for the creation of a community of learners guided by a teacher who attempts to help them assimilate a body of information?
  • Does online education allow for the preservation of a connection between the moral life and the life of the mind?
  • Does online education allow for a return to the sources?

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