1st Edition

Of Education, Fishbowls, and Rabbit Holes Rethinking Teaching and Liberal Education for an Interconnected World

By Jane Fried Copyright 2016
    140 Pages
    by Routledge

    140 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book questions some of our most ingrained assumptions, not only about the nature of teaching and learning, but about what constitutes education, and about the cultural determinants of what is taught.What if who you think you are profoundly affects what and how you learn? Since Descartes, teachers in the Western tradition have dismissed the role of self in learning. What if our beliefs about self and learning are wrong, and relevance of knowledge to self actually enhances learning, as current research suggests?Jane Fried deconstructs the Grand Western Narrative of teaching and learning, describing it is a cultural fishbowl through which we see the world, rarely aware of the fishbowl itself, be it disciplinary constructs or the definition of liberal education.She leads us on a journey to question “the way things are”; to attend to the personal narratives of others from ethnic, racial and faith groups different from ourselves; to rediscover self-authorship as the core task of learning in college; and to empower ourselves and students to navigate the disorientation of the Alice in Wonderland rabbit holes of modern life.This is a book for all educators concerned about the purpose of college and of the liberal arts in the 21st century, and what it is we should reasonably expect students to learn. Jane Fried both upends many received ideas and offers constructive insights based on science and evidence, and does so in an engaging way that will stimulate reflection.

    Foreword Preface Acknowledgments Introduction. Themes, Terminology, and Reader Engagement 1 Teaching, Learning, and Storytelling 2 Life Beyond the Fishbowl. The Grand Narrative, Academic Disciplines, and Deep Learning 3 Everybody Learns, Some Teach 4 Entr’acte. Is “Teach” a Transitive Verb? 5 Self-Authorship. A New Narrative of Learning 6 Professional Boundaries and Skills. Searching for Meaning Is Not Counseling 7 Curriculum, General Education, and the Grand Narrative 8 Assessment. Documenting Learning From Alternate Perspectives--Peter Trioano Conclusion . . . Well, Maybe Not Appendix A. Working in Groups and Facilitating Discussions Appendix B. Contemplative Methods for Classroom Use References About the Authors Index


    Jane Fried is a professor in the Department of Counselor Education and Family Therapy at Central Connecticut State University. She is the former coordinator of the Student Development in Higher Education master’s degree program. Dr. Fried is the author of Transformative Learning Through Engagement: Student Affairs Practice as Experiential Pedagogy and Shifting Paradigms in Student Affairs, as well as co-author of Understanding Diversity. She was also one of the primary authors in Learning Reconsidered 1 and 2 and has written several monographs on ethics in student affairs and student development education. She currently writes a blog, where her primary topics of concern are racism and transformative learning, and hosts diversity dialogues to support leaders in higher education who want to develop a deeper understanding of the ways that racism affects our society. Dawn R. Person is a Professor in the Educational Leadership Department at California State University, Fullerton. She serves as Coordinator of the Community College, Higher Education Specialization for the Educational Doctorate. She also serves as the Director of the Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership (C-REAL), a solution-focused, data-driven research center that serves community partners in Los Angeles and Orange county as well as national and international associates committed to issues of educational leadership and student achievement.

    “Fried calls for a reevaluation of higher education in America in light of our evolving, high-speed world. She supports her arguments by explaining the history of current educational practices which are primarily grounded in the mid-nineteenth century. The author uses a fishbowl metaphor to describe [a] limited perspective [that] reinforces the outdated structures of teaching and learning that render college classrooms lifeless and disconnected from the real world.

    Fried makes a critical point pertaining to how students learn and make meaning. She contends that human beings are self-organizing organisms who construct their knowledge in a particular and personal way. Hence, she calls for a redefinition of the concepts of learning and teaching based on the latest neuroscientific findings about how humans learn. Aligning these two fundamental processes in the classroom would, she argues, solve the current problem in higher education wherein ‘somebody teaches but nobody learns’.

    This inclusive approach to education validates diverse ways of knowing and activates, awakens, and cultivates a sense of agency within all children. Active, engaged students who own their learning ask questions, seek answers, and develop intellectually to see the interrelation and interdependence between themselves and the world. This is the type of teaching Fried is calling for at the university level.

    Fried’s book is a quick and easy read. Throughout the text, the reader is asked to stop and reflect on a variety of issues. Her ultimate challenge to educators is to reexamine teaching methods, broaden overall perceptions of education, and realize that learning is grounded in autobiographical issues. Approaching the concept of schooling from this perspective is vital in the 21st century.”

    Teachers College Record

    “All I want to say is thank goodness for Jane Fried!

    I just read her book titled Of Education, Fishbowls, and Rabbit Holes: Rethinking Teaching and Liberal Education for an Interconnected World. Don’t let the long title deter you from this compact gem at just 100 pages. I am thankful for Jane Fried because she has discovered what my personal experience and the science of learning indicate is the truth about how real and deep learning occurs and, most importantly, she is determined to help the rest of us understand it.

    [This] book speaks to faculty directly about their assumptions based on how they were taught and learned and how their world view influences how they see students and how they teach. By another name, Jane Fried is still working to help educators understand that there has to be a paradigm shift. She makes concrete recommendations about how faculty who teach undergraduates can do so more effectively. True to how we learn, throughout the book, she asks the reader to stop reading to do some exercises and reflections in order to move beyond learning “about” teaching effectively and to begin to understand how learning occurs through their own experience and reflection.

    I will continue to read whatever Fried writes because it takes a while to unlearn what and how we have been taught and to shift our perspective in how we see the world.

    Thank you, Jane, for continuing to move classroom faculty and student affairs professionals toward understanding how students learn in order to be more effective educators.”

    Gwen Dungy in her “About Students…” blog

    "Jane Fried’s latest book provides a lens for looking at integrated learning and practical suggestions for rethinking our assumptions about learning and teaching. A long-time scholar-practitioner in the field of higher education, in this book Dr. Fried models the cross disciplinary thinking that she advocates.

    Einstein said “our problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them”, Of Education, Fishbowls, and Rabbit Holes offers an in-depth examination of what it would mean to focus differently on learning."

    Susan Borrego, PhD., Chancellor

    University of Michigan - Flint

    "The true strengths of the book reside in its concise approach to presenting a holistic perspective of faculty development in the here and now. Faculty development discussions too often occur within the context of other topics and areas of higher education in the literature (or even as a mere footnote), so it is refreshing and quite useful having a study of faculty development writ large and by itself in focus.

    [It] is a concise historical summary of where faculty development within American higher education has gone since 2006, and where it is likely heading the next ten years. There is both qualitative and quantitative data support, as well as meticulous discussion of the data collection processes and analysis for educational researchers and social scientists to follow both now and into the future.

    Beach, Sorcinelli, Austin, and Rivard present a much-needed faculty developer voice and perspective within the larger American higher education leadership and management discourse. They developed an interesting picture of what faculty development will face over the next ten years, both for those in faculty development work (or desiring to go into that career), as well as those within larger higher education management/administration positions at present."

    The Review of Higher Education


    "Jane Fried's book Of Education, Fishbowls, and Rabbit Holes: Rethinking Teaching and Liberal Education for an Interconnected World is an exposition on how to change the way we think about teaching. It provides both a brief history lesson on the academy—an acknowledgement of where higher education has been and a call to where we might go. The reflective questions and exercises provided help readers redefine and revision their teaching. As the book implies, it employs the kind of circular thinking that will take the reader down a rabbit hole and on a mind adventure.

    I also liked that Fried tied recent research on learning into the content of the book.

    Fried's early training in a liberal arts college is apparent as her prose effortlessly moves between many disciplines and perspectives, explaining each succinctly and well. Readers should be prepared to embark on a winding journey through these disciplines and perspectives. It is difficult to summarize the content of this book or how the reader may feel after reading it. Recently, I used the book in a class for Master's level students in a student affairs program. The course was focused on how to use pedagogy to design programs, trainings, and workshops. Student in the class said that they enjoyed the book and it really made them think. I wholeheartedly agree. I suspect that the ideas contained in this book will be more difficult for academics that align with positivists and post-positivists points of view. This short book is packed with ideas and information, which lead me to put it down often—to think. If you give Jane Fried a chance, she will take you down the rabbit hole of her mind (a place I very much enjoyed inhabiting through her writing), provide you with much to think about in terms of your teaching, and place you squarely back where you started, but changed."

    The Review of Higher Education


    "Jane Fried’s book is a perfect marriage of theory, practice, reflection, and wisdom. Her reflective prompts will make you rethink and reassess long held beliefs about the role of the teacher in higher education. Her writing style and tongue in cheek humor make this book not only a very useful guide for today’s classroom but also a joyful look at our own fishbowls and rabbit holes. In today’s climate, Fried’s understanding of how students reach self-authorship is a must read for anyone who teaches. Times are changing and many of us feel like Alice down the rabbit hole, but Fried’s gentle humor, wisdom and insightful probes help us find a way to climb back out."

    Donna M. Qualters, Ph.D., Director, Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching

    Tufts University

    “Jane Fried invites us to consider a new narrative for higher education – one that connects thinking and feeling, places learners’ self-authorship at the center of the educational enterprise, and shifts pedagogy to a mutual learning process. While, as she acknowledges, the concepts she advances are not new, very few have taken hold because of our inability to see beyond the Grand Narrative of Western higher education. She guides readers to envision an alternative narrative, and offers a rare opportunity for educators to make new meaning of our roles.”

    Marcia B. Baxter Magolda, Professor Emerita

    Miami University, and author of Authoring Your Life

    "For educators puzzling over the Grand Narrative of general education, pondering what students need to be educated persons now and into the future, Fried's book offers refreshing, provocative guidance. Rich in prompts for reflection, the book introduces a philosophically attuned approach to general and liberal education. It breaks down classic binaries--those between objectivity and subjectivity, between content coverage and student self-authorship, making a holistic approach to 21st century college learning-in global context."

    Susan Albertine, Vice President, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, Association of American Colleges & Universities


    "Using a refreshing combination of personal reflection and seasoned scholarship, Jane Fried argues that ‘self-authorship’ is ‘the most profound goal that college students face’. She makes a convincing case for a paradigm shift, calling for college courses to offer personal context for learners. Her analysis is a trumpet call to all of higher education, postulating that until a student has a clear sense of identity that informs her or his own learning, the courses we teach will inevitably fall short of the individual’s needs.”

    Elsa M. Núñez, President, Professor of English

    Eastern Connecticut State University

    "Jane Fried weaves an engaging and illustrative narrative answering the question, ‘what happens when someone teaches, but no one learns?’ In an age where evidence questions students’ growth in college, this text challenges us to examine our mental models of teaching and learning. Fried argues that teachers, inside and outside of the classroom, must move beyond the positivist foundation of education and incorporate constructivism, self, and emotions to design holistic, integrated learning experiences that advance students' journeys toward self-authorship.”

    Gavin Henning, Associate Professor and Program Director

    New England College

    “If somebody teaches and nobody learns, what do you call that?” The inquisitive student who asked that question also answered it: “A lot of hot air” (xv). This anecdote sets the tone for Jane Fried’s short but provocative book Of Education, Fishbowls and Rabbit Holes: Rethinking Teaching and Liberal Education for an Interconnected World, which maps out a passionate and thoughtful argument regarding the need for educators—especially those who teach liberal arts—to reexamine what we do, how we do it, and why it matters. Fried’s career in academia—as a professor and a student affairs administrator—affords her a unique position from which to make her case, bridging the often untraversed gap between those of us who teach students, and those who help to manage all other aspects of students’s lives on campus.

    Fried’s book would be an excellent choice for a faculty reading group or discussion, especially as she includes questions and activities to assist readers in thinking about their experiences as teachers and learners. As a bonus, Fried includes information on the dynamics of classroom group work, and on contemplative practices for the classroom. If you are a regular reader of books on higher education and pedagogy, this is a good book to put on your list. If you are not, read it anyway."

    American Academy of Religion