Back Thursday | 17 February, 2011
Liberal Education Lecture: How Can It Help Us?
Dr. John Schoeberlein, Project Director on Islam in Eurasia at Harvard University, gave a lecture at the Free University in Tbilisi on February 15th on the usefulness of a liberal education, specifically anthropology, for life, society, and the individual. He elaborated on his personal experiences as a former student and current professor of anthropology and presented some fascinating ideas on the importance of a liberal education.
“Everything is becoming more integrated. A larger toolbox is required,” Dr. Schoeberlein explained, referring to the promise of a liberal education to equip students with the critical abilities to think analytically, problem-solve, and understand larger aspects of culture and societal behavior. Additionally, he outlined fundamental characteristics and concepts that describe liberal education, such as an emphasis on general knowledge, rather than instruction on specific tasks. He also discussed the importance of the concept of choice for students to help formulate their own course of study and the notion that students must actively engage themselves and participate in class discussions. While he explained these notions, he made clear that he did not wish to impose this system on Georgians, but rather discuss it and make it available. As he stated, “...being a missionary is not what I want to be.”
He drew on some examples when describing how anthropology fits within the framework of a liberal education and imparts knowledge, which facilitates an understanding of certain phenomena. For example, he explained that corruption exists in various different contexts that cannot be explained aptly by current economic models; however, anthropology provides a useful approach to understand corruption by turning to the different and specific cultural contexts in which it exists and invoking ideas of authority, family relations, and honor. While a payment may be deemed an act of corruption by one culture, it may be accepted as social norms by another. In this way, an anthropological study draws on specific cases and allows one to understand social systems and elements of culture, which is an approach that is not only theoretical but also applicable.
Dr. Schoeberlein highlighted the applicability of anthropology with an example in which a factory manager needs to lead a team of employees with different cultural backgrounds. In this scenario, training in anthropological ideas could endow the manager with the skill to understand why each employee acts a certain way, how to motivate him or her, and what each one values.
These are just a few snippets of some of the ideas Dr. Schoeberlein presented. It would also be an interesting follow-up to try to evaluate what Georgians think about liberal education, in contrast to a vocation-based education system. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these topics!
14.04.2014 | Monday
In his widly read 1983 book, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson wrote that English now serves “as a kind of global-hegemonic, post-clerical Latin.” In Georgia, knowledge of the English language is often important for educational opportunities as well as employment.
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Many social researchers working on the Caucasus bemoan the lack of good scholarly works on the region. However, one recent book, which is both excellent and readable, seems to have fallen under people's radars -- Mathijs Pelkmans' Defending the Border: Identity, Religion, and Modernity in the Republic of Georgia, which came out in 2006 with Cornell University Press.
01.02.2008 | Friday
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16.05.2008 | Friday
Many readers will already be aware of the concept of Creative Commons. The basic idea is to facilitate collaboration, interaction and people adding value to each other's online work. Creative Commons provides licenses for sharing easily, without giving up some of the author's basic rights. A great exposition of this entire concept is given by the founder of the entire idea, Lawrence Lessig, in an engaging TED talk (you didn't think that intellectual property rights could be that entertaining, did you?). See below.
03.07.2008 | Thursday
What is the average Armenian secondary school student’s competence in Maths and Science? Is Armenia doing fine, or is it time for the education policy makers to review the secondary school curricula. Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) proposes an answer to these questions. TIMSS is an international evaluation of the mathematics and science knowledge of fourth and eighth grade students around the world.
04.12.2012 | Tuesday OECD has just published their 2006 PISA results, which stands for "Program for International Student Assessment". In PISA, 15-year olds are tested for basic abilities in various fields. The 2006 round focused primarily on science learning. A little more than 60 countries participated, including Azerbaijan. Georgia and Armenia did not take part.
19.12.2008 | Friday
TIMSS, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, has released their report for 2007. TIMSS is conducted every four years and it reports on mathematics and science education for 4th and 8th graders in 59 countries. In 2007 Georgia participated for the first time in the study. Armenia participated again in 2007 (you can read our previous blog posting about Armenia in TIMSS 2003 here).
29.12.2008 | Monday
In 2006 Georgia participated for the first time in the PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) assessment. PIRLS began in 2001 and looks at literacy trends and reading education for 4th graders in 40 different countries around the world (Armenia and Azerbaijan did not participate) and is administered every five years.
07.12.2006 | Thursday
Foreign students officially registered in Germany, 2004
22.12.2006 | Friday
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07.11.2007 | Wednesday The CESS Conference 2007 in Seattle in mid-October saw a range of papers and panels on the Caucasus. One of the most engaging presentations was delivered by Kevin Tuite, who teaches in the department of anthropology at the University of Montreal.