Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Quote of the Day #2: How to teach

"If, in the course of a science curriculum, you cover Galileo’s incontrovertible evidence for the heliocentric theory and contrast his method with that of the geocentrists, or if you describe Newton’s experiments and discovery of properties of light and contrast them with Descartes’ spinning of theories out of thin air, or if you discuss the battle between the atomists and the anti-atomists, it is proper to lead students to the conclusion that Galileo, Newton, and Maxwell were heroes, that their methods were good, and that their discoveries had a lasting and profoundly valuable impact on the world. Because the students have the context to grasp these evaluations—because they can see the evidence for and understand the reasoning behind such value judgments—teaching them to make such judgments is not indoctrination; it is part of a proper education.
    "The teaching of any true, rational principles can become indoctrination if the teacher does not respect the hierarchy of knowledge and always consider carefully the context of knowledge of his students. But this fact is not unique to the realm of values; indoctrination and dogmatism are possible in the teaching of all abstractions. The point is that in regard to abstractions, the teacher must not be neutral—he must be hierarchical.
    "There is nothing dogmatic about guiding students in the formation of a conclusion, as long as they have the context of knowledge to properly grasp the conclusion. The responsibility of a school is to identify in advance what is the most important knowledge for children to obtain, to present it to them in terms of essentials, and to guide them in the process of making connections and forming principles. In doing so, it prepares students to make rational, informed judgments by arming them with the knowledge accumulated throughout history."
                       —Lisa VanDamme, “Teaching Values in the Classroom”

1 comment:

  1. Then again, you could teach that Galileo, Newton, Descartes and Maxwell were just "old white men"
    and that the ideas of cannibalistic tribesmen who lived at the same time are just as meritorious. Actually, that is what is taught in our schools.


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