[Hae-Joo] Pedagogy - The Art of Education

in #education6 years ago

What is Education?

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This question is on my mind. It would seem that throughout most of the modern world there seems to be a predominant consensus on what education means. Education and schooling appear to most quasi-synonymous, but are they really the same?

Some will speak about education that should take place within the home. Values, in the sense of morals and what is called "general education", are something which many believe should be transmitted within the privacy of a family unit.

Education seems to be defined in two ways: the first being the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. The second, however, has a much different connotation that we much less frequently encounter; education could be defined as an enlightening experience.

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The etymology of the word can perhaps brings us a greater appreciation of the true nature of education:

The Latin educatus, the past participle of educare, seems to have meant "to bring up, to rear, educate". This word is most closely related to educere "bring out, or lead forth", from ex- "out" + ducere "to lead", from the Proto-Indoeuropean deuk- "to lead".

As it turns out, the meaning "Provide schooling" is first attested 1580s.

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Here is the interesting part. According to "Century Dictionary", educere, of a child, is "usually with reference to bodily nurture or support, while educare refers more frequently to the mind". Furthermore, "Century Dictionary" suggests that "There is no authority for the common statement that the primary sense of education is to 'draw out or unfold the powers of the mind.'"

Yet surely, at least in the Western tradition from which the word comes from, there is ample reason to believe that the roots and true meaning of education go far beyond the utter reductionist meaning of "providing schooling".

We speak of a "Classical Education", by which the entire Western tradition has been handed down to us since Antiquity. A classical education certainly denotes far more than a simple pattern of learning.

Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images and memes (which may be handed down to us via pictures, illustrations, diagrams, videos and television.)

A brief understanding of the process of classical education in the Western tradition may be neatly conceptualized as the Trivium. During the Middle Ages, early years were spent in absorbing facts, and systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle years of adolescence, the student was encouraged to learn to think through arguments. In the final stages of one's education, the student learned to express themselves.

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The Trivium

The first stage could be thought of as the "Grammar Stage", because those are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. From the ages of 6 onward, the mind is ready to absorb information. At this stage, children find memorization fun.

During the second stage, the analytical abilities awaken. Interest in rote memorization evolves into the deeper questioning of the causes or origins of knowledge. The question "Why?" naturally begins to take precedence over the question "What?". This stage could be called "The Logic" stage. During this stage, the primal motive for study revolves around the inquiry into the relationships that govern the different fields of knowledge, and the way that facts all fit together into a logical framework. During this period, the capacity for abstract thought, unique to humans, is beginning to mature.

The final phase of a classical education, might be termed the "Rhetoric Stage". By building upon the body of facts accumulated during the "Grammar Stage" and the understanding of the complex web of relationships of causes and effects (which collectively form the basis of all human knowledge) acquired during the "Logic Stage", the student is now ready to begin to formulate his or her own conclusions about the various areas of intellectual inquiry in clear, forceful, elegant language. During the "Rhetoric Stage", the student is irrevocably drawn to the various branches of knowledge that attract his or her intellect and peak his or her curiosity.

It is understandable why a Classical Education may have been considered the superior form of education throughout most of European history. While allegorical and religious education may rely more strongly on apocryphal forms of story-telling as a medium of transmitting inherited knowledge and wisdom, it is a passive form learning. One is simply told what everything is, why it is, and what the predetermined conclusion is, without the troublesome burden of having to arrive at the knowledge by one's own method of inquiry.

Allegorical or religious education is learned through imagery, while Classical Education is derived from language. One cannot simply confront printed and spoken words and "absorb the knowledge". One must grapple with words, with their meaning, and by the very nature of the enterprise, arrive at their own conclusions.


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However, I was surprised (though I should not have been) to find out that the root of the word education is Latin, and not Greek. Surely the concept of a Classical Education originated in Ancient Greece. Why else would a Classical Education include learning Greek, and why would Western civilization be termed "Greco-Roman"?

I was delighted to learn that the sixteenth century scholar Roger Ascham (who tutored Henry VIII's children) had a list of 7 words, which came directly from Plato, which designated education. (The Greeks were truly masters of language.)

  1. Eupheus - Active seeking of knowledge, or a readiness of will to learning. Eupheus could be understood as a passionate desire to learn, an excitement and interest in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

  2. Mnemon - A good memory. Could be natural or learned, but it must be developed. It was considered quintessential that someone struggling with memorization must strengthen their ability to memorize and retain knowledge.

  3. Philomathes - Love of learning. All the natural endowments and aptitudes and all the memorization of facts would lead to nothing without a genuine love of learning. Without this fundamental value towards learning, the greatest books and wisest tutors could do nothing to encourage the true discovery and attainment of knowledge in one's life.

  4. Philoponos - A lust to labour, and a will to take pains. Without the willingness and mental strain to grapple with complex information, and the determination to push through until the eureka "A-ha!" moment where knowledge crystallizes in the mind, true learning be impossible.

  5. Philekoos - Being open to learn from others. Humility in its purest form. The patience and eagerness to hear other's out, to accept when others know things that we ignore, and to put our egos aside and learn from them when they are right and we are wrong.

  6. Zetekitos - A boldness to ask question. "He that is naturally bold to ask any question, desirous to search out any doubt, not ashamed to learn of the meanest, not afraid to go to the greatest, until he be perfectly taught, and fully satisfied." This is a great trait, especially when connected with Philekoos.

  7. Philepainos - Humble to the right authority. Seeking to please one's true master, be it one's father or mother, or whoever truly has the student's best interests at heart. Philepainos means trying to earn praise by doing the right things.

From Roger Ascham's The Schoolmaster, and this article

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Modern Learning

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Additionally, let us consider the following traits and characteristics that would always make up the greatest learner, and the wisest human being, especially in this day and age with all the wealth of resources available at the finger tips of billions of human beings.

  1. Being an Autodidact - Learning how to learn, and being one's own teacher.
  2. Being a Polymath - Having an interest and developing one's ability in various areas of thought, not only in a depth, but in a breadth of knowledge.
  3. Being a Philosopher - Having the love of wisdom. This means loving to think outside of the box. Thinking creatively rather merely conforming to the prevalent orthodoxy and consensus, and arriving at one's own conclusions by thinking deeply about all views, and listening, ultimately, to one's own counsel. The key to advancement has always been rigorous and unconventional thinking.
  4. Being a Leader - After all, why do we even need people to know things? In Chinese, the word for "to know" is 知道 (zhidao), which literally translates to know the way. People who have knowledge can lead others responsibly and correctly. It is said that the best leaders make the best followers. Genius and greatness can only manifest when we have empowered individuals who can lead others to the highest possible attainment and result.
  5. Being a risk-taker - Finally, knowing when to take risk, when the reward clearly outweighs any potential downfalls, is the means by which we humans, but even all life on Earth, has continually evolved and progressed throughout the infinite space and time of Creation. A risk-taker uses all of his abilities to minimize threat and danger, and to maximize the potential for success and attainment. Risk-taking is an integral part of true learning and true discovery of the unknown.

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So what do you think? What is education? Did your experience of schooling provide you with the noblest and most advanced form of education you could imagine? Or did it lack in certain, if not many, key areas and disciplines that would constitute what true learning really would mean to you.

Though I am aware that some elements of the Classical Education were indeed incorporated into my schooling, I feel like they fell horribly short of what I even intuitively expected as a little boy and burgeoning adolescent. I'm glad I had a father who devoted a considerable amount of energy to educating me at home, somebody whom I could have long and deep conversations with about the world and the ideas contained within, somebody who could provide me with the tools to become the master of my own learning, somebody who transmitted his love of learning and inspired me to seek knowledge at every opportunity.

He always told me "Son, if you love learning, in this world you will always be like a kid in a candy store".

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But sometimes I wish I had been properly home-schooled, either by my father (who for long stretches was busy working almost 70 hours a week and therefore had to rely a lot on my schools to do the heavy-lifting), or just by a personal tutor who could have truly given me everything I would have needed to "draw out or unfold the powers of the mind."

In the end, I feel like schooling, at least after primary, was unnecessary. Everything that I have learned that has served me and helped me grow and evolve I had to learn for myself, outside of the classroom. What might I have already accomplished had so much of my youth not been wasted on mediocre tasks of rote memorization and mind-numbing testing...

I'm not even trying to suggest I was a gifted overachiever or anything of the sort. I doubt my IQ was that much higher than the average child, that I would be redefining the laws of physics by now had I received a better education. No...

But I think I would have developed a lot less neuroticism, and would have honed and perfected my natural abilities, and developed my skills and talents to a much higher degree, had I not been failed by "The Education System".

As I've had the chance to do some teaching work in the last few years, I've realized there is a huge potential for the activation of dormant minds. In recent times, I've seen children with little passion for learning come alive following our interactions in the classroom, and as I reflect on my childhood learning and how I could, at least in theory, attempt to give to a new generation of students what I feel I was unfortunately denied, I find a new hope for the power of education and the potential for the evolution of the human mind.

I think I am beginning to agree with some of the more honorable statesmen and leaders of the world. Lately I've reflected on the quote attributed to Mandela, that "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".

I think there is much truth to this. Whatever things may be, I hope that one day the veil of ignorance is lifted from mankind's eyes.

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Peace and Love
Hae-Joo

Sources

Pixabay: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

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Very well thought out and extensive knowledge you put into this post! I love it! A proper education is so essential and I am really hoping my kids stay passionate about learning and always feel welcome to approach me as they do now. Thanks for sharing this topic with us! I appreciate you for shedding light on what education is meant to be.

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Thanks @staceyjean! It was a pleasure to write it, glad it resonated.
Having a parent who you can ask questions to and figure stuff out with is literally the best.
If you don't have a parent who you can go to for advice or help figuring stuff out, you need somebody in your community/family who you can go to! So essential.
None of us have all of the answers, but as a collective, we know everything we need to to keep evolvin' and growing and bettering ourselves! Knowledge shared knowledge squared! Set the world ablaze with da light! Follow our passions and let the love in our heart guide us to all the answers!
Peace Stace! <3

That's an extensive information on education. I would say that my experience of schooling in conventional system wasn't pleasant. If I could go back in time, I would rather be homeschooled. I prefer to learn at my own pace since I tend to enjoy diverse topics and dive into it.

The school at my country does not allow the student to explore more on their interest. It's mostly text book and grade oriented. In the end, we learn only little especially if we have no interest in the topic the first place.

And it's right, education can change the world.

Hi @Macchiata, I completely share your experience. Schooling, especially class-time, was not pleasant. I guess I'm grateful for all the social interactions that took place... They made me who I am. Even the bullying and pestering and the self-esteem issues that help me back for years... In the end, what did not kill me made me stronger. But I would not want my children to go through the same experiences as I did, and I doubt I will let a 21st century post-modern state raise them. I'm sure I'll make my own mistakes in educating them and they will have their own reservations... But I'll try my best, which is more than I can say for 75% of the teachers and educators I was confronted with in my lifetime. Am very grateful for the 1 out of 4 who actually did try their best. In the end, we can all learn something from anyone and everyone, especially if the exchange is earnest! Agree though that text-book and grades impart very little value to students compared to personal experimentation, dialogue, exchange of ideas, debate, and so on.

Yes. Education will change the world! Let the Age of Aquarius and the flood of information begin lifting the tides of our minds !

Have a great day and peace be with you @macchiata x

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