Sunday, August 22, 2010

Twitter Book Club: John Dewey (1938) Experience & Education, Ch 7

"The way out of scholastic systems that made the past an end in itself is to make acquaintance with the (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Occasions which are not and cannot be foreseen are bound to arise wherever there is intellectual freedom. They should be utilized." Deweyless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"the educator cannot start with knowledge already organized and proceed to ladle it out in doses." Deweyless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"No experience is educative that does not tend both to knowledge of more facts and entertaining of more (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The appeal [of back to basics education] may be temporarily successful in a period when general (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Failure to give constant attention to development of the intellectual content of experiences and to obtain (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

@anderscj That Dewey guy... he was pretty smart. :)less than a minute ago via HootSuite

I was most struck with this quote and it is worth repeating here again:

"The appeal [of back to basics education] may be temporarily successful in a period when general insecurity, emotional and intellectual as well as economic, is rife. For under these conditions the desire to lean on fixed authority is active. Nevertheless, it is so out of touch with all the conditions of modern life that I believe it is folly to seek salvation in this direction." Dewey
History does seem to repeat itself. This quote applies so well to our current time of standardized testing, "common core" charter schools, and "back to the basics" education. By so completely organizing and categorizing subject matter into standards we have robbed learners of this important task for themselves, the task of making sense of the world. Dewey wrote this statement in 1938 (or at least it was published in that year). In that time the world was well into the Great Depression and as far as general insecurity the general public likely looked a lot like the general public today. One big difference today is besides economic and emotional insecurity intellectual insecurity is more pronounced in the wake of social media and the Internet.

These new information tools call into question the very nature of information. The other day I was asked by an attendee of a workshop I was giving on utilizing social media in the classroom how one is to know what is true when it comes to wikis, blogs, podcasts, social video, etc. when anyone can just post whatever they want. My answer to her was, "How do you know if anything you see, watch, hear, or read is true? It was not like traditional media never got it wrong, never printed anything untrue or misleading, or published something that contradicted other outlets?" If anything, the emergence of social media, web 2.0, citizen journalism, etc. shines a light on the issue of truthfulness in all media, not just news but also textbooks. I think this is a good thing. TYT did a piece on this topic a couple of weeks ago and I think they nailed it:

Dewey characterizes traditional education, of which standards, subject matter, and textbook curriculum are all paraphernalia, as an education of the past. In changing times, in times of instability and insecurity, it is natural for many people to want to hold on to the past and a good way to do that is with scripted standardized curriculum. By going "back to basics," by depriving learners of making their own taxonomies, by banning social media like YouTube, Wikipedia, and blogs, by mandating a scripted curriculum, by rewriting textbooks to minimize the role of individuals and groups that might promote critical self-reflection, and by holding teachers accountable to how well our students are acquainted with the past via standardized tests it delays our collective date with the future. It delay's our collective coming of age and retards our growth into societal maturity. It feels to me like we are all living in Pleasantville:

And to those who "get it" this reversion and fervent recoil to a day of 'ol is a vandalism and insult by those who choose not to open their eyes.

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

I have been asked the same question of social media, how do we know if any of it is true. These are the same people who watch shows on Fox or MSNBC and believe that what they are hearing is truth. All facts become skewed when viewed through human eyes and filtered through opinions. The only way to know if something is true is to validate it by digging deeper, consulting multiple varied sources, and getting to the heart of the matter.