Education System Dr Piper Outlines Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

While one must applaud a sentiment such as, "... success in such matters comes from having determined their own identity, recognized their own distinct strengths, and sharing those strengths with the world," one must also question the hint of ambiguity that this presents when related to a desire to break down cultural barriers and promote discourse.

This concern comes from my own experience of the way in which most modern universities function. It is usually true in this age of economic and cultural jealousy that Universities tend to be territorial and very competitive. Universities often have entrenched views and perspectives that might hamper the process of producing a true inter-cultural and holistic educational movement. The focus on cultural identity might exacerbate the situation in educational institutions even further.

However, besides this concern, there are many other areas of her speech which are brilliantly clear. The above ambiguity all but disappears when she states that the sense of self-identity must be ameliorated by the fact that knowing "who we are is not enough, we must also have an understanding of the world that takes us beyond our own Canadian borders."

Her reference to Thomas Freidman also is, in my estimation, very pertinent and germane to the issue of contemporary education. She makes the very important point that "to be globally literate you have to learn how to synthesize information from each of these disparate perspectives to produce a picture of the world that you could never arrive at if you looked at it from a singular point-of-view." Unfortunately, while I could not agree more with this view, it again seems in some way to contradict the previous statement about establishing a Canadian identity. I feel that there is a slight contradiction in this attitude about a national identify and seeing things from a wide and non-singular perspective.

What is not ambiguous though is the interesting emphasis on creativity. Dr. Piper's ideas for the introduction of creativity are part of an innovative vision. Thinking beyond the parameters of rigid disciplines is another important idea that could further the aims of her educational vision.

On a more negative note her two pronged attack does seem a little idealistic. The sentiments are to be applauded but one should also be wary of an attitude that does not take cognizance of the reason why education institutions have become insular and narrow in the first place. I think that the essence of her speech points to some very important aspects of global and local education. There is definitely a need for higher education to promote a new and creative mode of thought that will bridge cultural, ideological and national divisions. On the other hand, I feel that one must not be naively unaware of the difficulties in overturning vested interests, stubborn pride and agendas that have created and support many universities. In other words, a new kind of thinking about culture and education needs to be fostered - not just a refurbishment of the past. The following quotation outlines something of this new perception of culture; this relates to many of the main points in Dr. Piper's speech.

Culture thus conveys the proposition that although we have been spatially "fixed," we are not thereby "fixated." McCarty offers two metaphors which express this idea. Following Heidegger, she construes culture as "path," noting that this imagery conceives of spatial location as "a tracing-out, historically, of potential commonalities." Similarly, Hegel's "home" suggests that cultures, while bounded, are not self-contained. On the contrary, "the very idea of a single, self-conscious culture requires, for its identity, comparison against alternatives." (Kerdeman D)



University of Washington. October 14, 2004

Leith, T. Big Ideas (in a shrinking world). Ulster University. 1996.

Accessed October 14, 2004.

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