Monday, May 04, 2015

"The aim of education should be to teach us how to think, rather than what to think. To improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, rather than to load the memory with thoughts of other men." - Bill Beattie

There is a common fallacy in education (and maybe just in general) that I call the "A to C" fallacy.

We're at point A.  We want to get to point C.  So we try to mandate, or create, C as though there were no intermediate steps.

All of life has steps to be taken, we don't go A --> C directly, there is a B step or set of steps that can't be skipped. Life is A --> B --> C. When we try and shortcut from A --> C, we deny the work, growth, and change that are needed not just to get to C, but to stay there.

A is needing to eat. C is having food. B is planting, growing, and harvesting. Skip those steps and you have unhealthy dependencies on manufactured food-stuffs.

A is uneducated. C is educated. B is learning how to think, with thoughtful adults nurturing, caring, encouraging, and challenging. Skip those steps and you have an unhealthy dependence on manufactured "content-stuffs."

If we want our children to lead valued lives, to build healthy and caring communities, then we teach them how to think; we don't tell them what to think. If we're in crisis state A economically, ecologically, politically, or in any other way, we must be devoted to helping ourselves and the next generations to learn how to think and reason and act--and that's a very different task than trying to download some selected set of knowledge that only mimics thinking.

Who benefits from the "A to C" fallacy? Those who claim to have the tool or test or program to shortcut all the real work, and/or those who don't really want thinking, reasoning, and acting people who will question those shortcuts.

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