Archive for January 8, 2016

Using Greek ideals to improve progress in education

Nick Falkner has been using his blog in a series of posts to address a question that I’ve wondered about here: Why does research influence so little practice (see post here) and policy (see post here)?  Nick is taking a novel approach — he’s using the three values of Ancient Greece, brought together as a trinity through Socrates and Plato: beauty, goodness and truth.  He’s exploring how we can use these to define high-quality teaching. It’s an interesting series and approach which I recommend.

I used to say that it was stunning how contemporary education seems to be slow in moving in directions first suggested by Dewey a hundred years ago, then I discovered that Rousseau had said it 150 years before that. Now I find that Quntilian wrote things such as this nearly 2,000 years ago. And Marcus Aurelius, among other stoics, made much of approaches to thinking that, somehow, were put to one side as we industrialised education much as we had industrialised everything else.

This year I have accepted that we have had 2,000 years of thinking (and as much evidence when we are bold enough to experiment) and yet we just have not seen enough change. Dewey’s critique of the University is still valid. Rousseau’s lament on attaining true mastery of knowledge stands. Quintilian’s distrust of mere imitation would not be quieted when looking at much of repetitive modern examination practice.

What stops us from changing? We have more than enough evidence of discussion and thought, from some of the greatest philosophers we have seen. When we start looking at education, in varying forms, we wander across Plato, Hypatia, Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, in addition to all of those I have already mentioned. But evidence, as it stands, does not appear to be enough, especially in the face of personal perception of achievement, contribution and outcomes, whether supported by facts or not.

Source: A Year of Beauty | Nick Falkner

January 8, 2016 at 7:44 am 4 comments


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