Part of the joy – and part of the challenge – in designing a new graduate program pretty much from scratch is the opportunity to reflect on, and incorporate to some extent, my deeply held values and philosophy of education; especially adult education. With respect to the study of media, Marshall McLuhan claimed, “To understand media, one must probe everything … including the words … and oneself.” I would say the same is precisely true with respect to contemporary education, that we must indeed probe everything—our assumptions, our language, and ourselves as both learners and teachers.
One assumption that has become so pervasive in pedagogy that takes on the characteristic glibness of a cliché is the myth of so-called learning styles, and specifically, the notion that everyone learns differently. Nonsense, I say! People do not “learn differently.” That now overly tired and overdue-to-be-retired cliché derives from a post-Enlightenment, early Modernity understanding of disciplinary segregation of abstract knowledge in formal education. I strongly suggest that such a view is no longer adequate as a relevant basis for pedagogy in our contemporary world that is complex and characterized as ubiquitously connected and pervasively proximate (UCaPP).
All people learn through repeated and recursive processes of reflection on experiences, be they formally or informally situated; graphically or textually dominant; predominantly visual, aural, tactile, olfactory, or otherwise; coerced, invited, or spontaneous; and combinations and permutations of the foregoing. The key question – arguably, the only salient question – for contemporary educators is, how best to create environments and circumstances that enable optimal conditions for relevant experiences, well-contextualized reflections, and assimilated embodiment of the resultant knowledge that would enable the intended effects of the educational process; that is, praxis.