STRATEGIC LEARNING GOAL 1:
“Shape Valencia’s culture by making learning the chief value and design principle in every College policy, procedure, plan, and initiative.”
An Essay by Bill Castellano and Sandy Shugart
First is often used to signify “preceding all others,” “in preference to something else,” or, in the case of music, “having the highest or most prominent part among a group of similar voices or instruments.” Those definitions help clarify why LEARNING FIRST is the first among our seven equal Strategic Learning Goals.
Over the past six years, the College has been involved in a major
transformational process. That process
has led to new vision, values, and mission statements. It has led to new core competencies expected
Does asking the two learning questions guarantee success? Certainly, it does not. We must be willing to seek out and assist areas within the College where practices do not reflect our vision, values, mission, and strategic learning goals. We must be willing to value those who positively step forward to identify such practices. We must be willing to caringly and collaboratively work together to help all of us transition into this new learning-centered paradigm.
Putting LEARNING FIRST challenges notions long steeped in the academic environment in higher education inherited from an earlier agricultural and industrial society. Terry O’Banion has asserted that education today isn’t very different than it was 100 years ago. He views our educational systems as stuck in a world that is “time bound, place bound, efficiency bound, and role bound.” By putting LEARNING FIRST we break out of the artificial restraints imposed by the architecture and infrastructure of the past and create a new learning environment that celebrates lifelong learning and respects the notion that given the right time, place, and circumstances, most anyone can learn most anything.
application of current research findings in learning theory and design; recognition of the global nature and the present-day diversity of our local community; adaptation of the ever-increasing quantity of available information and speed of communication; accommodation to 21st century societal needs for skilled and flexible workers; and consideration of the overall relevance and unity of a curriculum anchored in development of student core competencies.
LEARNING FIRST must also translate into intentional budgeting and strategic planning, rethinking the physical and organizational architecture of the institution, and changes to the evaluation and rewards systems to reflect commitment to implementing Valencia’s learning-centered goals.
In addition to institutional initiatives, individual members of the
learning community have unique opportunities to put LEARNING FIRST. We can ask the two learning questions in all that we do. We can challenge and work to change practices that are not learning-centered. We can support, celebrate, and reward our colleagues who use learning-centered practices. We can measure success in terms of student learning and make decisions based on data and other evidence relevant to our vision, values, mission, and strategic learning goals.
In “education years,”
we have moved from the traditional paradigm associated with most colleges to something new. This can be described as moving . . .
Perhaps, in another time and from a different point of
reference, T.S. Eliot found the words to best sum up what we are about in
putting LEARNING FIRST. Eliot wrote in Four
Quartets, “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our
exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first
time.” The place: