Written by: Tim Baye, Co-Chair, Leadership Wisconsin 2018 Croatia Seminar
Recently, I was asked to draft a response to the question: Help us better understand the value of the International Seminar in the field of education. What benefit will we, educators, receive from this experience? My response was as follows:
Increasingly, perhaps even to go so far as to say increasingly-at-an-increasing-rate, educators and institutions are challenged to both deliver sound educational services AND to deliver these in a manner that speaks to the discipline’s relevancy to the student. Better said, substance and relevancy. This trip, to Croatia within the context of Leadership Wisconsin, will strive to enhance your skills in pedagogy beyond any available to you in the Upper Midwest. I’m so bold on that statement because when I first started teaching two MBA courses there, in 2001, little did I understand how that experience would change – and benefit, me.
Two specific examples of what you will gain. One, recognizing the impact of not being able to be anonymous in your “immediate” community. Whether that community is a neighborhood, a tribe, a town, the impact of social pressure has always been there – even in Wisconsin. But, when that circumstance expands, for instance to a city of ~100,000, the impact of social status and norms is much more profound. Understanding and acknowledging this “circumstance” was crucial to improving my effectiveness as a teacher in Croatia. The collateral benefit was that I strived to transfer that lesson to all my Wisconsin/U.S. efforts too. Working with an improved understanding of the “learner’s context” made me a better educator, advisor and researcher.
Second example: Instructional institutional design, both at local level and multi-national. The Bologna Agreement (~2010) dramatically changed the mission, roles and outcomes of post-secondary education in Europe. Gone were the degree programs that had been modeled on U.S. standards (AB to BS/BA to MS/MBA/MA to PhD/JD/MD…. yodda yodda). Replacing these were enhanced versions of traditional European models of basic to professional, or basic to graduate, or basic to apprenticeship. In Croatia, particularly with our co-sponsor there, J.J. Strossmayer University, the faculty and staff will comment on the impacts, successes and drawbacks of this transition: both upon faculty and students. A second part of this example will be exposure to evolving roles between faculty and students. In the U.S. a faculty member’s familiarity with students is not uncommon. In Europe, especially so in CE Europe, formality has been, and largely continues to be, the “rule-of-the-day.” Social media, global communications and other societal changes are influencing that relationship, and expectations.
Seeing another setting, where outside influences greatly impact educational outcomes and services will serve you well.