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Episode 193: A New Wave of Education

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Danielle Bainbridge (Twitter: @PBSOrigin) has been an academic her entire life. A university professor and the host of an educational web series, Danielle has a unique stake in both traditional education and a new wave of education through technology.

In this interview, Danielle joins Mission Daily Producer Hilary Giorgi to discuss how the education space has changed. Danielle also shares her predictions for how the traditional and the unconventional will blend to form a new type of education model.

[1:30] Danielle’s Background

  • Danielle recently joined the faculty at Northwestern in the departments of African American Studies, Theater, and Performance Studies.
  • She completed her doctorate at Yale where she did research on 19th-century African American history and onward.
  • Danielle hosts a web series online for general audiences about underrepresented or undertold histories
  • “For me, school has always been a place where you could explore a lot of different interests with relatively low stakes.”
    • Because of the limitations that come with choosing a major, that outlook changed when she went to college.

[4:50] Her Transition From Student To Professor

  • Danielle loves to research and was able to attend Yale where they funded her degree in exchange for research work.
  • Eventually, she was asked to TA a class.
    • Her formula for becoming a successful teacher: find the middle ground between your eagerness to be personable with your students and your dedication to the subject.
    • Teaching made her a better scholar because it made her more aware of how her work contributes to those around her. Instead of being a selfish pursuit, she learned that the purpose of all this research was to share it with others.

[9:40] How She Supports Unconventional Students

  • At the time that she went to college, there was a major push by everyone to follow the traditional path and she believes that might have been to their detriment
    • “I felt the decision was made about me, not for me.”
    • “I was told by the system, ‘If you don’t go straight through, you’ve fallen off the boat of opportunity.’“
  • In many ways, Danielle took the traditional path, but she tries to encourage her students to see all the different paths – there isn’t one right way.

[13:50] Origin Of Everything

  • Origin of Everything is the web series that Danielle researches, writes, and hosts.
  • The content is free and every episode they take a deep dive into a random topic.
  • She loves her web series and similar online learning tools because it opens up learning opportunities for people who may otherwise not have had access.
    • “The same level of content I’d give my students, I want to give to people who are searching online with no risk to them and only reward.”
  • “People are naturally curious — we want to learn things and think about things at a deeper level. Usually what prohibits people from doing that is lack of access or opportunity.” Click to Tweet

[18:00] The Future of Education

  • Danielle believes that models that give open access to university level education will become more popular.
  • When she went to college the selling point was: This is the only place left to learn. Nowadays, that is far from the truth. The be all and end all is no longer the four-year degree.
  • Another thing that will change is the grading system.
    • Students make moral assessments of their own character based on how they do in school.
    • Danielle shares her version of grading.
    • Mentioned by Danielle: Why do we get grades in school?
  • “Too often education is thought of as something fixed in time — it’s these three years you have to go to finish this degree. But the rest of your life doesn’t stop happening. Your education isn’t divorced from it, it’s one piece of it.” Click to Tweet

Find out more about Danielle here and be sure to check out Origin of Everything (YouTube | PBS).

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