Learning about learning

      3 Comments on Learning about learning

Jeff Morosoff, Assistant Professor, Hofstra University

After a two week hiatus from the blogosphere, I’m back.  I had a fun ol’ time in the nation’s country music capital, Nashville, but things got a little more serious in St. Louis where I spent four days at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s (AEJMC) annual conference.  I realized that after 30 years as a public relations and media professional, I have so much to learn when it comes to the world of learning. 

The large conference (1,400 attendees!) featured scores of workshops and panels and mentoring on the latest research, teaching methods and issues within the academic world.  I settled in to the PR track, surrounded by colleagues with all levels of experience.  It was a wonderful exchange of ideas and support, and I took away more than a few good applicable methods of research and teaching.  I also joined about 40 of my colleagues as we left academia for a couple of hours and toured the St. Louis headquarters of international PR firm Fleishman and Hillard, where we heard from top executives on what they’re looking for from graduates.  It was eye-opening to see an occasional disconnect between academics and the profession.  Critical and creative thinking, humility and fearlessness, and the ability to use existing (and future) computer-based tools were emphasized by these executives; it was a wake-up call for some of the professors there.

Colleges and universities are not trade schools, but they should prepare students for careers.  I believe a balance should be struck between theoretical learning and skills training.  I’m finding that some of my academic colleagues agree with this thinking, and some don’t.  But learning about learning — and debating and exchanging ideas and methods are what these conferences are all about.  Your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Learning about learning

  1. dhenni3

    I would love to have a class dedicated to preparing me for the “real world”. Having mock interviews, resume builiding, and all things that are considered for hire. It would be extremely helpful for graduating seniors. Although somewhat obnoxious at times, having to do an internship before you graduate is helpful, being prepared before is important for possible hire after.

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  2. Phil Hecken

    While I agree that in a *perfect* world, institutions of higher learning should really be teaching the *pure* theory and skill training, but the world isn’t perfect, and as such, a delicate balance (to borrow from the eminent Mr. Welch) is needed. Unfortunately, it’s a big, bad world out there, and to send students out thinking that only good and pure implications of classroom instruction will be what they face would be both impractical and a disservice. Nevertheless, explaining, not so subtly, the *right* and *wrong* way to do things, with emphasis on the *right* is proper. But to send a student out into the wild thinking there is a set of established rules that EVERYONE plays by isn’t the best tack either.

    It’s ultimately a very difficult call, and one that each individual professor must seek out for him/herself.

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  3. Jonathan Welch

    I think the delicate balance is one of the largest issues with schools today. With a difficult job market, students must be prepared to land a career with a specific book of skills. I see career prep and help at Hofstra, and I am fortunate. But, this was not the case for my undergraduate institution.

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