Monday, August 02, 2010

What Educational Truths Do You Hold to Be Self-Evident?

We need a new way to have dialog on the stories we use to describe teaching and learning.

Our old stories and narratives of education (factory-model, top-down, compliance-driven) are breaking or are already broken.  It is not that those stories ever really worked for all people, it's just that they worked for enough people and/or interest groups to have been generally accepted--even by those whom they were failing.  However, the advent of Web 2.0--or the fulfillment of the Internet's promise of broad participation--is releasing an intellectual energy from our latent desires as human beings to have a voice, to create, and to participate.  Because of this we are in the midst of large power shifts away from institutional messaging and toward authentic communication.  The building of new stories brings meaning to our lives, and stories about education that don't encompass the many diverse and valuable perspectives that can now be brought to the table are no longer going to be acceptable.

At the same time, political and institutional activities are likely to continue to promote stories about (and programs for) education that are highly-structured and defined from above.  These will continue to drive policy and practice unless a grass-roots effort to declare new models, beliefs, and vision can take hold.  Submitting and voting on education "declarations" is one step toward building a broader, healthy perspective on educational culture that reflects individual ideals.

What truths do you hold to be "self-evident?"  Answer at


  1. We don't need a new dialogue. We need to revive a very old dialogue; the one that says education is fundamentally teleological and that its end is the development of human excellence, of becoming what we are, as Pindar says.

    Modern (North American, is all I can speak for) education's chief problem is that it's lost sight its fundamental purpose. Or rather, it's reduced it to a skill set.

    I like Maritain's conception. Humna beings are at once persons and individuals. The person is the unique being, e.g. there is no one else, nbever has and never will be another just like me. The individual is the human being in society, with which it shares common interests, desires, etc. The person's duty is to contribute to society as an individual so that society is enriched. The goods of this enriched society, which cannot be realized by the person in isolation, flow back onto the person, enlarging him or her so that he or she can make even greater contributions and so on. Although the image is of a (positive feedback) loop, there is an end in mind--the betterment of the person.

    See my diagram.

  2. That humans are curious animals and it's in our nature to enjoy learning, teaching, and solving problems.


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