Thursday, November 4, 2010

Twitter Book Club: Alfred North Whitehead (1917-1929) The Aims of Education - Chapter 7

Universities and their Function

"So far as the mere imparting of information is concerned, no university has had any justification for (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

Interesting. We hear people echo sentiments like this today as a result of the Internet, that somehow the Internet makes schools obsolete. Don't often hear people make the argument that the existence of libraries have the same effect.

Here are two of my favorite videos on this topic:

"The justification for a university is that it preserves the connection between knowledge and the zest of (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The tragedy of the world is that those who are imaginative have but slight experience, and those who are (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

How do we encourage the growth of imagination? It seems like everything the standards movement that has had it's foot on our necks for ten years has done has had the effect of killing the youthful imagination. Actually, come to think of it, it seems most of what traditional schooling does has this effect as well. Aren't most of our most imaginative students punished for their imaginations? Hasn't the notion of an "overactive imagination" come to be seen as a bad trait for kids to have?

"prolonged routine work dulls the imagination." Whiteheadless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Imagination is a contagious disease. It cannot be measured by the yard, or weighed by the pound, and then (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

Let me repeat that in it's entirety:
"Imagination is a contagious disease. It cannot be measured by the yard, or weighed by the pound, and then delivered to the students by members of the faculty. It can only be communicated by a faculty whose members themselves wear their learning with imagination." Whitehead
I know under the forces dictating the direction and procedures of the present public school system that my own two little girls will not be given sufficient fuel to feed, grow, and develop their imaginations. It has been a priority of mine to grow this at home. Nothing would please me more than for a teacher to complain to my wife and I that our daughters have overactive imaginations. I believe it is a crucial life skill. To do this we go on imaginary adventures nearly every night where the basement becomes a cave, the living room couch a mountain, the island in the kitchen a tower, one bed in their bedroom a spaceship, and another a pirate ship. The three of us have had fantastic adventures over the past few years. We have sleighed dragons, we have negotiated with giants, we have stolen witches broomsticks, and we have been turned into robots. We have even found a portal to another dimension on the wall in their bedroom and a time travel sinkhole in the bathroom.

One of our favorite games is to play "Do you want a chocolate?" where we take turns offering each other chocolates out of an imaginary dish and describing to each other what they taste like. This is especially fun to do around people who are not in on our joke.

And Improv! This summer my 5 yr old saw the video below after which we entered into a two week marathon of practicing similar improv at home.

I can already see the benefits of all this imagination and creativity. Often my kids seem to find solutions to problems that even stump me and my wife. And, having this skill to imagine means never having to be bored unless you want to be.

"The learned and imaginative life is a way of living, and is not an article of commerce." Whiteheadless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Knowledge does not keep any better than a fish. You may be dealing with knowledge of the old species, with s (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The faculty should be a band of scholars, stimulating each other, and freely determining their various (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The danger is that it is quite easy to produce a faculty entirely unfit—a faculty of efficient pedants (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"universities cannot be dealt with according to the rules and policies which apply to the familiar business corporations." Whiteheadless than a minute ago via Twittelator

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