There is a new world in the academic and the post academic the students must adapt themselves to. The world has become increasingly competitive and there is an exponential expansion of knowledge and information and this means that the students who will survive in this new world order are the ones who will adapt to keep up with this highly dynamic world.
The way universities used to be has changed and they are now not only centres of disseminating knowledge, but also centres of promoting change (Soontiens, 2002).
This change is not just intellectual change, it is all encompassing change that makes a complete makeover of the raw material it receives in the formative years and gives out a refined product that is well shaped to tackle the emerging issues in the world.
Gone are the days when having a degree was something to be cerebrated by all and sundry. Nowadays, if you have just the undergraduate degree, you are just another first among equals and you do not have any competitive advantage over millions of others who have a first degree like you.
This means that learning is a life long process and this world belongs to those who understand this fact (Verville, 1990). This is because the world is now being moved by knowledge and information, and these are two highly dynamic facets; how else do you acquire them apart form engaging seriously in lifelong learning (Soontiens, 2002).
Even the world economies have changed from the conventional heavy economies to the modern knowledge based economies where knowledge and information and not machineries and physical labour are now the drivers of the economies. The most powerful thing right now in the world is information and knowledge and students must dedicate their lives to continuous process of learning to be able function in this highly knowledge driven world (Soontiens, 2002).
Another important element that the universities are emphasizing today is critical thinking. Thinking is important but critical thinking is what differentiates a smart student or even worker from the rest (Soontiens, 2002). The more the world is changing, the more the problems are evolving and the solutions to these problems must be found for progress to take place.
These problems cannot be solved by ordinary thinkers; they can only be solved by critical thinkers. This is another area that the universities are focusing on. They are out to churn graduates with acute problem solving skills by teaching them how to make critical analyses of life situations (Soontiens, 2002).
For the students to be said that they have adequate problem solving skills, they must be able to use some habits of the mind and one of these habits is formation of perspectives; which involve the organization of arguments into parts and then separate the most important from the least important. It also involves separating opinions from facts and then the value of each is appreciated (Verville, 1990). This is the basis of critical thinking. Another habit of the mind that is involved in critical thinking is analysis. After forming perspectives, it is important to ponder on the arguments in a way that is reflective.
This involves the use of logic and also knowing the limits of the analysis. The other critical habit of the mind that is involved in the process of critical thinking is imagination (Soontiens, 2002). This is the disposition to make an evolution of your view of an issue using contemporary and conventional patterns that will suffice now and in the future. A university that is not equipping its students with the aforementioned abilities is in a very wrong path.
The workplace, just like the academic arena has changed significantly. Education alone cannot help one to fit in the contemporary work environment because of its highly social and flexible nature. Thus the universities are putting this into consideration by ensuring that they do not mould academic giants and social dwarfs who cannot fit in today’s workplace. They are churning out all round products that are readily prepared to face the challenging job market and the demanding workplace (Verville, 1990). That is why you see in the workplace today, people are not necessarily doing what they studied.
Education students are working in banks, Law students are working as news reporters and so on. This means that one thing that the universities are teaching very well is flexibility: do not just follow one line, there are many things you can do there with your education. In the workplace, the workers must be able to work as a team and individually. There are some more habits of the mind that can help them to fit well in the highly challenging, demanding and evolving workplace (Soontiens, 2002).
One of these habits of the mind is empathy. Empathy involves sensing reasonable views, revering all views and honoring the one that is the most persuasive. The other habit of the mind is communication which is the ability to take the duty of explaining ideas in a clear, truthful and sober way that respects all those who are listening to them or seeing them being communicated. The other habit of the mind that ought to be developed is that of commitment. This is the recognition of the necessity to act when there is an action worth attention and being patient to the situation one has stepped forward to respond to (James, 2003).
The current generation takes the flak for the many ills that are happening in the society. The generation has been labeled as irresponsible, insensitive and morally corrupt and the universities are taking measures to ensure that all the raw materials they receive will be devoid of the aforementioned tags by the time they are being churned out as products.
This means that apart from just giving the intellectual knowledge, they are also equipping the students with skills that will make them responsible members of the society who can be trusted to take over the leadership from the old conservative generation that is far beyond the benefit of the modern information and knowledge revolution. This means that there are programs that are teaching leadership skills, social welfare skills and may other skills that can make the students reliable members of the society (Verville, 1990).
The habits of the mind that can help the students to become more responsible members of the society include, value which is the choice to apply a pattern of behavior that is intellectual and ignoring the patterns that are less productive. The other habit of the mind is inclination that includes the tendency to apply the aforementioned behavior without pressure or motivation (James, 2003).
Sensitivity is another habit of the mind that will make the students to become more responsible members of the society because of its ability to perceive opportunities and threats and also emphasizes the appropriateness of applying behavior that is intellectual in pursuit of opportunities and in evasion of threats. Capability is a habit of the mind that will help the students in application of the basic intellectual skills that are central to behavior while commitment on this platform means the desire to reflect and improve the behavioral performance (James, 2003). In conclusion, university students in the contemporary world must adapt to the knowledge and information that is expanding markedly. They must be life long learners who think critically and are flexible to be able to fit in this highly dynamic world. They must be problem solvers who can work independently and in a team.
The education system today, apart from teaching the basics of education is also teaching the students to become responsible citizens who are open minded and can communicate with people from allover the world. This new approach by the universities is a step in the right direction and should become a global concept inherent in all the academic systems. As illustrated in the essay, this new mode of learning borrows heavily from Costa and Carrick the Habit of the mind and it puts a whole new psychological dispensation to the world of academia that will ensure the mind must change for the individual to embrace the change in the society.