EDUCATION

Higher Expectations: Can Colleges Teach Students What They Need To Know in the 21st Century?

Princeton Univ. Aug. 2020. 232p. ISBN 9780691205809. $29.95. ED
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Former president of Harvard University Bok (The Struggle To Reform Our Colleges) ponders a profound question: What do 21st-century college students need to know? In this highly readable and engaging book, he delineates how colleges can better prepare students to gain the skills and develop the habits of mind necessary to succeed in life, especially in a fast-moving, knowledge-based society. Bok focuses on both content and instructional methods. He offers a historical overview of American college curricula and reform efforts from the 17th century onward, which should be required reading for anyone interested in how teaching and learning have evolved. The lack of civic engagement among some voters and the hyperpartisanship evident in recent elections spurred many educators including Bok to examine whether and how colleges can provide civic education in efforts to protect our democracy. Bok also delves thoughtfully into other subjects such as international interdependence, intercultural competence afforded by study abroad, foreign language requirements, ethical behavior, character building, personal responsibility, and cocurricular and extracurricular activities. Throughout, he stresses that curricular reform needs to start with learning outcomes—hence the question, what is it that our students need to know?
VERDICT Highly recommended for college faculty and administrators, and anyone interested in how college students can find meaning and purpose in life.

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