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Ken Robinson, John Dewey and Changing Education Paradigms

This reminded me of where today’s discussion headed. What do you think of Mr. Robinson’s argument? Does it align with our discussion of paradigm shifts?

But I think we also touched on some foundational ideas in “progressive” education going back to the ideas of John Dewey, who made the case for democratic education through dialogue the likes of which we’ve seen in class this week:

“Not only is social life identical with communication, but all communication (and hence all genuine social life) is educative. To be a recipient of a communication is to have an enlarged and changed experience. One shares in what another has thought and felt and in so far, meagerly or amply, has his own attitude modified. Nor is the one who communicates left unaffected. Try the experiment of communicating, with fullness and accuracy, some experience to another, especially if it be somewhat complicated, and you will find your own attitude toward your experience changing; otherwise you resort to expletives and ejaculations. The experience has to be formulated in order to be communicated. To formulate requires getting outside of it, seeing it as another would see it, considering what points of contact it has with the life of another so that it may be got into such form that he can appreciate its meaning. Except in dealing with commonplaces and catch phrases one has to assimilate, imaginatively, something of another’s experience in order to tell him intelligently of one’s own experience. All communication is like art. It may fairly be said, therefore, that any social arrangement that remains vitally social, or vitally shared, is educative to those who participate in it. Only when it becomes cast in a mold and runs in a routine way does it lose its educative power.”

Based on our recent discussions on Metaphysics, and now Epistemology, what might we expect to be the moral extensions of the conclusions we have reached? In the conversation about What can be known? we are logically led to consider our individual (and societal) obligations to ourselves and one another, and how we might ethically go about governing a society based on such premises.

Here are John Dewey’s thoughts on the matter:

“Society exists through a process of transmission quite as much as biological life. This transmission occurs by means of communication of habits of doing, thinking, and feeling from the older to the younger. Without this communication of ideals, hopes, expectations, standards, opinions, from those members of society who are passing out of the group life to those who are coming into it, social life could not survive. If the members who compose a society lived on continuously, they might educate the new-born members, but it would be a task directed by personal interest rather than social need. Now it is a work of necessity.”

Do you agree with his assertion that such ‘social’ education is “a work of necessity”? If so, how well do you feel our schools (or other educational experiences: extra-curricular sports, organizations, popular culture, etc) perform in communicating such societal ideals?

I would be most curious to hear the group’s thoughts on some of the questions above, as I believe many of the threads here could provide meaningful links to our future studies of not only ethics, but aesthetics and social & political philosophy as well.


About bryanjack

HS Gifted program teacher interested in the world out there, the world in here, and blending the two at every opportunity.


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