No. 372, 19.2.2011 3 哈佛學者倡求知重廣博 Harvard Scholar-Educator Calls for Broader Foundation of Knowledge 劉 易斯教授早前在中大主講兩場講座 1月17日的 利希慎講座「通識教育的模式」，以及1月19日的 邵逸夫爵士傑出訪問學人講座「資訊年代的公民教育」。 這位哈佛學院前院長有關高等教育的著作《沒有靈魂的卓 越：博雅教育可有前景？》膾炙人口，他接受《中大通訊》 訪問時說：「如果有一天學生在學術範疇所學的細節漸漸 變得無關宏旨，又或者已拋諸腦後，通識教育可讓他們知 道自己的身分，明白自己存在的目的。」 通識教育是中大由來已久的傳統。劉易斯教授這次來訪， 正值中大傾力部署2012年起推行的四年制本科課程，新課 程強調除學有專精外，還應跨越學科樊籬，以求知識既深 且廣，因此將加強通識教育、語文和資訊科技的教學，以 及培養終身自學的能力。 求知首重廣博，這是劉易斯教授目睹高等教育漸趨專門化 後呼籲大家回歸的基礎。據他觀察，工業革命前，美國的大 學教育可說全是通識教育。但到了二十世紀，教育割裂為 學系，教授變了專家和「專業人士」。他說，大學恍如專業 運動隊伍，奉爭雄競長為要務。 劉易斯教授認為讓學生探索人類的普世命題很重要，「我 愈來愈支持這樣的模式：整個課程環繞一些重大問題，橫 跨各個單元，然後從不同的路徑切入探討。」他舉出一些 通識課程可以探討的大問題：「地球上的生命前景如何？」 「社會應容許多大程度的物質不公平存在？」「個人對自 己生命有多少主宰的餘地？」 高等教育汲汲於卓越，犧牲了哪些「靈魂」的素質？劉易斯 教授說：「這個政治和經濟掛帥的世界競爭激烈，世人往 往只着眼於一月或一季。但大學關心的不應是朝夕，而是 千秋萬代。競逐卓越，往往令靈魂為之銷蝕，謙遜就是常 被犧牲的部分。我們總是鞭策學生和自己要勝過別人。我 希望人們少一點這種自我膨脹的行為，使社會的發展可以 更健康。」 從1974年起在哈佛教書的劉易斯教授說，最有成就的兩 個學生 比爾．蓋茨和馬克．朱克伯格 都是中途輟學 了。「在大學裏學得較多專識的人，成就未必較大。踏出大 學之門應帶着創意，敢於離經叛道，知道世界怎樣運作， 有能力說服別人，這些才重要。」 劉易斯教授相信，大學奉行「不出版便出局」原則，便是為 求卓越而犧牲了遠景的一例。「大學的管理層有一定影響 力，可以左右教員教甚麼，做甚麼研究。」他認為透過檢視 及調整聘任及晉升機制，可以帶來改變。 對學生可參與評核教師，劉易斯教授亦自有一套看法。他 說在十年前，哈佛大學一位心理學教授做了一個研究，發 現學生上畢十三周的課堂後對老師的評分，與另一組學生 只觀看兩分鐘該老師授課時的無聲錄像片段而給予的分 數，竟有莫大的關聯。因此，他認為不應將學生的評分作 為獨立評估指標，以衡量教授的授課表現。他發現：「在這 制度下，未獲長期教席的年輕教員受害最大，他們會傾向 把分數打得較寬鬆，以求換取學生的高度評價。」劉易斯 教授補充，他認同評估教師表現時，應兼容學生的聲音， 但設計評估方法時，要倍加小心。 P rofessor Lewis, former dean of Harvard College, presented two lectures at CUHK—Lee Hysan Lecture ‘Approaches to General Education?’ on 17 January, and Sir Run Run Shaw Distinguished Visiting Scholars Lecture ‘Civic Education in the Information Era’ on 19 January. ‘General education gives students identity and purpose when the details of their academic work becomes irrelevant or forgotten,’ the author of the Boston Globe best-seller about higher education Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future? told the CUHK Newsletter in an interview. General education (GE) is a long-established tradition at CUHK. Professor Lewis’s visit coincided with the University’s full-on preparations for the implementation of the new four-year normative curriculum in 2012, which will emphasize both breadth and depth of knowledge across different disciplines as well as within specialties. The new curriculum will enhance the teaching of general education, languages and information technology, and cultivation of the capacity for self-learning. The return to a broader foundation of knowledge was what Professor Lewis called for in face of higher education becoming increasingly specialized. He said that up until the Industrial Revolution, all university education in America had been in a sense general education. Then in the 20th century, education splintered into departments, professors became specialists, and universities came to resemble professional sports teams with competition for excellence dominating importance of local well-being. Professor Lewis also believes in getting students to explore universal themes. ‘I’m increasingly attracted to having bigger questions that cut across the curriculum that will be touched on in different ways.’ He named some of these overarching questions that could usefully inform the GE curriculum: ‘What are the prospects for life on earth?’, ‘How much material inequality should exist?’ and ‘How much are individuals in control of their own life?’ What important ‘soul’ qualities have been sacrificed by the pursuit of excellence in higher education? Professor Lewis remarked, ‘In the competitive world of politics and economics, it’s easy to just focus on this month or quarter. Universities should think in terms of lifetimes. Part of the soul that has to be balanced against excellence is humility. I wish to see less self-aggrandizing behaviour for a healthy society to function.’ He added that his two most successful students at Harvard where he has been teaching since 1974 are drop-outs— Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. ‘The person who gets a little more expertise in university is not necessarily the bigger achiever,’ he observed, ‘It’s important to come out of university with creativity, a certain level of irreverence to what they’ve been taught, know how the world works, and be able to persuade people.’ Professor Lewis believes the ‘publish or perish’ requirement at universities is one of the drivers behind the phenomenon of excellence at the expense of vision. ‘University leadership can have a very powerful effect on faculty behaviour such as what they teach and what kind of research they do,’ he remarked. By reviewing and adjusting hiring and promotion processes, therefore, he said, changes can be brought about. Professor Lewis also has strong feelings about student evaluations of teachers. He said a study by a psychology professor at Harvard 10 years ago found that at the end of a 13-week term, how students of the course evaluated their professor correlated surprisingly highly with that of another group of students who had watched the same teacher on a two-minute tape with the sound turned off. Therefore, he said, student evaluations are not an independent measure of how well professors are teaching. ‘The ones this system hurts the most are young faculty before tenure, who will be encouraged to grade softly in order to get good results,’ observed Professor Lewis. He added that while he agrees students should have a voice in how a teacher is performing, great care should be taken when designing evaluations.