Mike McCuddy is visiting the Netherlands for the annual
Education Innovation in Economics and Business (EDINEB)
Conference. Together with Dutch researchers Thomas Tijssen (Saxion)
and Sandra Reeb Grüber (Inholland) he will host a workshop on the
development based teaching paradigm to compete with leading
paradigms like teacher based and learning based.
"Little kids are very creative. For example the box in which a
washing machine was sold could be a fort or a spaceship. But what
is it when you grow up? Something to be disposed of or recycled. In
my opinion, the educational process often beats the creativity out
of people." According to McCuddy this, as one of many problems with
contemporary education, is due to the narrow focus on two
questions: "What is the purpose of education? And, who are
beneficiaries of education?"
Start from creativity
"We need to foster the creation of functional maturity of
individuals," McCuddy explains referring to the key points of the
development centered teaching paradigm. The theory McCuddy and his
colleagues advocate rests on twelve principles concerning the focus
on human development, co-creation and collaboration between
teachers and learners, starting from a learner's curiosity and
interests, and the learner as primary creator of his or her
own developmental habitats. "The educational system as we
know it undermines the natural capacities of people. Let's
recognize that not everyone has to be the same."
"We have to make students responsible for their own development
instead of embracing the notion that the student is the customer.
The learning centered paradigm is working on a need to know basis.
That orientation has been the biggest downfall of educational
innovation. It has become all about trying to satisfy them no
Ending up as a student
To give an example of his own approach, McCuddy recalls a class
in Business Ethics he created last year. "I have gradually
transformed that class in a reflection of the development centered
paradigm." McCuddy starts the course as a seminar leader, but
halfway changed roles to become a student himself. "This course is
about sharing your own moral journey."
"The task for the participants is to engage the rest of the
class on the topic they get assigned. The group that had to talk
about moral leadership designed an interactive decision making game
around a 'Star Wars' theme."
"It was a marvelous simulation with video clips from different
movies. It really engaged the audience emotionally and
intellectually. It was very creative and very well executed. A
couple of young people made the connection with reality. That was
very much shifting responsibility for learning and development from
the teacher to the student. I want students to think of themselves
in the context of functional maturity."
Switching between behaviours
Mike McCuddy describes functional maturity in a set of eleven
characteristics including self-awareness, proactivity, balance of
self-interests with the interests of others, willingness to risk
mistakes, ability to deal with uncertainty, flexibility in
switching between behaviors, and the knowledge to act upon a
certain situation. "Our whole purpose is to foster the creation and
refinement of functional maturity."
Although there are some positive developments in education,
McCuddy still sees a potential reluctance in educational innovation
against the idea of the development centered paradigm. "Innovation
in education more often than not occurs in small incremental
changes. Incrementalism occurs most frequently and effectively.
Resistance to innovations about turf protection by teachers."
"There is a big block of resistance in those who are still
locked in the old ways", McCuddy criticizes. It appears that at the
EDINEB Conference he met like-minded people in his pursuit of a new
form of education. "Thomas (Tijssen red.) joined EDINEB a long time
ago. We became friends. It's almost like a family reunion here.
We've done a lot together. Talked about what we were doing. A
few years later, Sandra Reeb-Gruber started coming to EDiNEB and a
substantial collaborative project was launched with
several educators contributing to it, and McCuddy and
Reeb-Gruber leading it."
Together with Sandra Reeb Grüber from Inholland they put
together a workshop "as a sort of re-energizing force. I would like
to see students, or better learners, taking responsibility for
Causes of deteriorating education
Regarding the discussion in the United States, McCuddy admits
that he is "upset, almost appalled over the past years at the
assumed explanation at causes of deteriorating state of American
education. Who or what's to blame? Bad teachers or the poor
socio-economic situation of students? Every reason in the world
seems to be offered but one variable seems to be ignored. The role
of the students themselves."
"Teachers can't do anything with unmotivated students.
Motivation is about the effort we make as individuals. We cannot
make those choices for others. The missing link is to get people to
recognize that learners are responsible for their own motivation.
We can co-create and collaborate but fundamentally it is up to
learners to manage their own development."
It is that shift in thinking about education which is needed to
bridge the gap towards the development centered paradigm. "As long
as we fall prey to the fallacy that someone else is responsible for
students' motivation, we're doomed. Education, as we're doing it
now, too often doesn't involve expecting and requiring students to
be responsible the responsibility to build their own