24 February 2009

Like Baking Bread

I had the opportunity this morning to share my No Educator Left Behind keynote with the Educational Developers Caucus, whose annual conference was taking place today and tomorrow at Durham College. A great audience, a lot of good feedback, engaging questions, and a number of valuable and interesting conversations. In response to one question, I happened to come up with what I think is a useful metaphor for higher education: baking bread.

You take a bunch of organic components, combine and knead well, working the mix with a firm hand. You let it rise on its own - then punch it down and knead some more. Let it rise again - and punch it down again. Finally, you let it rise to its full height, filled with the organic activity of living elements (and a bit of gas), and then let it bake on its own until the room is filled with the sweet aroma of a magnificent creation that can be shared with all who choose to partake of the goodness and value of what has been produced.

As an adult educator, that metaphor seems a lot more satisfying than any of the industrial, gotta-succeed-in-a-competitive-world metaphors that are often used by administrators and policy makers.

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