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March 31
2016 年 3 月 31 日

大學「心件」的探討

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隨著陰晴交接的早春3月,《高等教育的心件》及《高等教育怎麼辦?》一書,兩種版本分頭由香港商務及台北天下文化在港、台發行。

緣起
2008年5月14日,抵達陌生的香港城市大學,出任校長。說陌生,那是因為除了短期訪問過香港科大之外,香港對我是一片空白,而我對香港想必也是一片空白。

《高等教育的心件》 到香港,是緣份。對於在美國高教界工作學習了34年的我來說,這個緣份既曲折又令人大開眼界。2008年之前,我對台灣高教頗為關注,也留意大陸的高校革新與制度僵化問題。由於指導過好幾位南韓博士生,因而曾多次訪問南韓,研討該國的高教、科技與創新。這些經歷與觀察都是我寫作的緣起。

本書從高教國際化,教研合一,質量、評鑑,創意、創新等四個方向,分二十八章闡述港、台、大陸高教的進展,說出我對高教的看法,間或比較與美、日、英高教的異同,再加以「清流之氣」做為心件後語。

重心
兩岸三地喜談國際化。國際化不是形式,或者只顧講究英文,由世界各地的大學簽約合作,互派學者及學生。國際化的大學應該是推廣先進的課程與研究,培育創新的新世代人才,以追求人類社會的永續發展。

《高等教育怎麼辦?》 大學因應社會需求,所訂的課程必須高質優量跨學科。有些關鍵領域,如能源與環境、創意媒體、生醫工程和智慧城市等,必須透過交叉探索,尋找發展的利基。鼓勵大學創意,不可錯誤地認為教學與研究各不相關。研究者要將研究帶入教室,教學者要了解當代的科研趨勢,認清並解決開放性的(open ended)的論題。橋歸橋、路歸路,社會遠離“微管”,大學培養有動力、有創意的學生,成為朝前發展的關鍵人才。

也許令人困惑的一個問題是:學位到底有什麼用處?

千萬不能把名校的學位看成是獲得好工作的通行證。條條大路通學問,有學問者不一定有學位;而在許多情況下,有學位者常常沒有學問,而徒有學問,不能實踐,也是沒有任何效用(utility)!所以大學應該傳授學問、學識,並且實踐力行,絕對不能只顧得頒授學位。

心件
港、台、大陸的高教不甚理想,其重點可以總結於下面「心件」的字裏行間:

心空教亦空
上心研乃心
硬體合軟體
總欠一心件
我說「山與山的距離是雲」。聰明伶俐的劉教授,斟酌「心件」用字,推敲再三,看出些端倪,直道「心與心的距離是體」!如此這般下了結論,認可書中闡述的兩個概念:教研合一、心體合一。

說得好!智慧出眾的劉教授,說出了99%的「心件」道理,卻仍然不是它的全貌。除了以上的解釋,有誰能感觸到那1%的隱形因子究竟是些什麼嗎?

「心件」指的是一種文化、心態、行為習慣和思維模式。此書從不同的角度分析高教、引用各種例子指出完備的硬體(硬件)與軟體(軟件)頂多只是完善大學的必要條件,並不足以引領先進的大學教研,而“大師”與“小師”的過時之論也未必是完備大人之學(大學)的癥結。

如果只懂得講空話,沒有心件遠見,不是高教國際化的真諦,這就是《高等教育的心件》闡述的重點。

註:
本書港、台版的版稅捐贈學生獎學金。


Defining "soulware" in higher education

In the rainy days of early spring, my book on higher education The Soulware of Higher Education was published by Hong Kong Commercial Press and Commonwealth Publishing Company in Taipei.

Trigger for the book
I arrived in Hong Kong on 14 May 2008 to take up the presidency at City University of Hong Kong, a higher education institute I was unfamiliar with at the time; unfamiliar because all I knew about Hong Kong came from a previous visit to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The rest of Hong Kong was a blank to me. As was I to Hong Kong, I assume.

Perhaps I was predestined to work in Hong Kong. It is true that, after studying and working in the US for 34 years, it was a fairly circuitous route that brought me here, and ultimately a fairly eye-opening experience. Prior to coming here in 2008, I had been very interested in what was happening in higher education in Taiwan, and I was aware of the reforms being carried out within the rigid education system in mainland Chinese universities. At the same time, I had visited South Korea on multiple occasions because I had supervised a number of South Korean doctoral students and had taken some time to study the South Korean higher education, its science and technology development as well as its innovations.

These experiences and observations were the trigger for this book. Divided into 28 chapters, it outlines the development of higher education in Hong Kong, the mainland and Taiwan from four different angles: internationalisation, integration of teaching and research, quality and evaluation, and creativity and innovation. My views on higher education are explicitly expressed in these chapters, with occasional comparisons of the differences and similarities in higher education between British, Japanese and the US universities. The book ends with an epilogue defining "soulware".

Focus of the book
Internationalisation is a much-talked about subject on both sides of the Strait. But many people forget that it is not a formality; nor does it simply mean an emphasis on learning English, or signing agreements for faculty and student exchanges. An internationalised university should offer up-to-date curricula and promote advanced research, cultivate innovative talent for the new era and pursue sustained social development for humanity.

A university's curriculum must be of high quality and be cross-disciplinary in response to societal demands. For certain key areas, such as energy and the environment, creative media, biomedical engineering and smart city, trans-disciplinary efforts must be made to find a niche for development. In promoting university innovation, one should avoid thinking that teaching and research are not related. While researchers need to instill research in classroom teaching, teachers need to be updated about the latest scientific and technological developments as well, and be able to define and solve open-ended questions. Our society should stay focused on the right way, steering away from "micro-management" and instead should cultivate students for social advancement in a dynamic and creative way.

What is the use of a degree then? This may still be a perplexing question.

Never, ever, think that a degree from a prestigious university is a pass to a good career. All roads lead to learning. A learned person does not necessarily have to have a college degree. To the contrary, a person with a higher degree may not be a learned person in many circumstances. At the same time, a person with great learning may not be of any utility if his/her learning cannot be put to practice. Therefore, universities should disseminate learning and academic acknowledge, and encourage putting learning and professional knowledge to practice, instead of being satisfied only with granting degrees.

Soulware
Higher education on both sides of the Strait is less than ideal in many areas. What is missing is summed up in the following poem on "soulware":

Teaching is empty without devotion of the heart,
Research after all remains the utmost art.
Barely equipped with hardware and software,
Lacks still it does, devoid of proper soulware.
I once said, "The distance between mountains is the clouds". Hearing my comment, Professor Liu, who is a very smart academic, replied, "The distance between souls is the body". He seemed to have understood the reason for my use of the word "soulware". His reply recognises the two concepts encapsulated in my new book, i.e., the integration of teaching and research as well as the integration of body and soul. 

Well said! Wise Professor Liu has identified 99% of the rationale for my use of the word "soulware". But it is still not the whole picture. Who can perceive the remaining 1%?

"Soulware" refers to a kind of culture, a mindset, a habitual behaviour, and a way of thinking. My book analyses higher education from different angles and explains by citing various examples how being equipped with complete sets of hardware and software is at most an essential condition for building a perfect university. It will not be sufficient to promote advanced academic research. Nor will the antiquated comments by "greater" and "lesser" masters be the solution to perfecting our universities.

The essence of internationalisation is the insight that comes from the right "soulware". This, and this only, is the focus of The Soulware of Higher Education.

Note:
Royalties of the Hong Kong and Taiwan editions will be donated to student scholarships.

31 March, 2016

 

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