Related to our series on Education for Human Flourishing: A Christian Perspective (Paul D. Spears and Steven R. Loomis, InterVarsity Press, 2009),* below is an email I received regarding the purpose of education. Agree/disagree? Thoughts/reactions?
The purpose of education is to learn how to learn, some say. … I’d say, to learn how to teach yourself. … The teacher is a coach to assist in the process. …”Dead Poets Society” and other movies picture the teacher as this mother bird throwing out worms to hungry little mouths, taking in the teacher’s great knowledge. … That’s ridiculous. … At high school I had to learn to teach myself. … I can’t learn from someone talking to me, unless I can dialog with them, and ask a thousand questions. … I have a German type mind, until I see how all the pieces fit together, I don’t understand. … When I teach a new topic, I often have to meditate on the concepts for many weeks before it’s internalized, and I have almost a mental picture and feeling for the totality of the topic. … Then I’m ready to move around, answer questions, give analogies, examples. … and feel comfortable. … Poor math teachers just stand there and give procedures: do this, then this, then this. … Don’t ask any questions. … Just do it. … It’s terrible…
Comment: I must confess it’s hard for me to knock Dead Poets Society (1989), a film of my high school years which depicted what I lacked for a stretch of my education, but found in a significant form during my years at Grove City College. Upon further reflection, I think that at Grove City College I entered some classes (by accident and others by intentional deliberation) of self-motivated students coached/taught well by self-motivated, inspirational faculty who served as excellent mentors in/out of the classroom. Furthermore, this experienced Mathematics Professor describes my mode of learning/teaching. Still processing and very much interested in your comments.
*In order to return to the series, I will probably give it a particular day in the week so Wednesdays can have another topic of consideration. Stay tuned.