Brain, Education, and Inquiry - Fall, 2010: Session 2
Class is itself an experiment in a particular form of education: co-constructive inquiry
Learning by interacting, sharing observations and understandings to create, individually and collectively, new understandings and new questions that motivate new observations
Depends on co-constructive dialogue, being comfortable sharing existing understandings, both conscious and unconscious, in order to use them to construct new ones. Need diversity of understandings, need to be able to both speak and listen without fear of judgment. Need to see both self and others as always in process, always evolving.
Starting where we are: from the forum
If education can be defined in so many ways and if so many people disagree on what exactly education is, then how does it work as a subject of study? Aren't you then studying what you are participating in? how does that work exactly? ... ln0691
because "education" classes in college are about academic education we naturally assume that this will be the topic of discussion, and cater our thoughts to meet this expectation. Thus we begin talking about education as it relates to school, and are now taking a step back and saying, "wait, isn't there so much more to education?" During class I was thinking about how our setting is affecting our discussion and I wonder if there are other ways, in addition to how we're thinking about education, in which our setting is creating subconscious biases ... evren
Like many people who have posted, I found one of the most thought-provoking (and at the same time frustrating) things about our first class to be the labels we tossed around ... epeck
I feel, as it seems several of my classmates do, that it might be useful for us to begin at or somewhere near the/a beginning: what is (an) education, really? ... Just because we are in school does not mean that we know what education is ... bennett
I thought it was really interesting to see how the responses to the ‘Brain Drain’ covered a broad spectrum ranging from apples to policy. There were also some recurring words, though, like grades, students, etc. What struck me, however, was how presumptive we were about what people meant. The two people who said grades, for instance, probably meant very different things. I feel like it’s things like this that create a disconnect in general conversation as well. When we don’t define our terms, we end up talking at each other or past each other and that creates confusion and misunderstanding ... Ameneh
what "unconscious biases" do we bring to a classroom because its a classroom?
what is education "really"? who gets to define it? why? how?
Maybe the place to begin isn't actually with "common definitions" but rather with whatever each of us happens to be thinking at the time we start? And out of that comes (or doesn't come) "common definitions"? ... PG
We wax poetic about the failure of the school system and of teachers and administrators and everything in-between..... but truly, many of us are a product of many of the same systems we berate. The scholars and businessmen and white-collar and blue-collar workers, the activists, the tycoons - we all are products in some way, shape, or form, of that system. Surely the system coulddn't have gotten everything wrong. So the question becomes: "What did the system get right? What has it so far done correctly? ... Kwarlizzie
What I find frustrating about education, and a possible reason that it can seem shortsighted, is that good grades enable an individual to ostensibly have more options (this point is also debatable!), and grades are usually given periodically during a semester and the accumulated grade is given at the end of the semester. This system is very fragmented, and when grades, evaluations, and judgments are given in this way, and given such great meaning, then it becomes difficult to keep perspective. How much does our flawed educational system have to do with how we are evaluated (i.e. grades and standardized tests)? ... FinnWing
As in many of the quotes above and the observations in class, education is usually linked only with value as a means to success, not for its own sake ... memyselfandI
Thinking back to my most formative times as a child, and now as an adult, very few of them occurred within the walls of a formal teaching institution. These times occurred as a child, playing with my sisters and interacting with my parents and grandparents. I believe that it was during these formative times when my mind was most open and impressionable, not when I was studying in college or writing a paper. Perhaps the difference is that, in grade, middle, and high schools, as well as in college, I was given assignments of what to study and topics on which to write papers and was not allowed to let my mind wander in the same way that it was able to when I was a child playing in my Nanna’s attic ... Angela DiGioia
many of the things that "aren't working" in our educational experiences aren't working because we misunderstand and feel dissatisfied because we have the wrong expectations. Education isn't a thing, but a process. I guess it's true that, for some people, years spent in school are dues to be paid or time to be logged in purgatory before getting your golden ticket diploma to fame and fortune, but I sort of feel that it can't be a "good" education if it can be treated instrumentally like this, if it changes you so little that you have the same goals before, during, and after its acquisition. I accept that degrees and money exist, and that they do influence the shape of our reality. But they're really just pieces of paper. And they only mean things because we agree to believe in them. Ideally, the process of education should feel more tangible, more perception-altering and reality-influencing than those pieces of paper ... jessicarizzo
if we accept that "knowledge is power" ... what is this power, and why is it so important to have it? ... do we actually get that "power" or are we feeding into a system that only makes us believe we have more control than we really do? ... kgould
the purpose of education is to reestablish social norms and to maintain and feed into the existing societal structure…its to keep the people at the bottom at the bottom and visa versa, to separate the “have” from the “have nots” ... L cubed
Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘the practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. … Richard Shaull, introduction to Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 2000 (republished from 1970)
It is this predominantly smooth move on the school-based education "highway" that can cause the passenger more fatigue than frustration. The frustrated passenger is the one who has yet to reach his/her destination within the normative time, personally anticipated time frame and/or at all ... D2B
We learn by watching, doing, mimicking. We tell stories. We remember. We recreate situations. We regurgitate information ... Do we learn to be more efficient? Do we learn to survive? How much of learning is done on purpose or consciously? ... eledford
"where is the fun in all this?" ... My instincts tell me to have fun with school (and with life in general) in whatever way I can ... LinKai_Jiang
What is/should be the objective of education?
to have fun, to acquire information, power? to achieve knowledge, understanding? to participate in the transformation of the world?
Can thinking about inquiry and the brain help?
What is knowledge, understanding?
talk about in the context of science see Science as Story Telling and Story Revision, and then of empirical inquiry in general
|Linear science||Seriously loopy science|
Science as rooted and tested by empirical observations rather than authority
Science is about the natural world
Science as body of facts established by specialized fact-generating people and process
Science is about objectivity
Science puts aside values/aesthetics
Science is about Truth, the provable, the universal
Science as successive approximations to Truth
Science is about discovery of what is
Science provides authority, certainty
Science/empirical inquiry as rooted in and tested by empirical observations rather than authority
Science/ei is about the inanimate, the animate, and the human
Science/ei as ongoing process of getting it less wrong locally, potentially usable by and contributed to by everyone
Science/ei is rooted in subjectivity, aspires to shared subjectivityScience/ei uses values/aesthetics and contributes to them
Science/ei is about doubt, skepticism, the possible, the shared
Science/ei cannot establish Truth or proximity to it, as ongoing making of observations, intepreting/summarizing, making new observations, making new summaries, a continual looping between one's understanding and the world, as well as among different understandings in different people
Science/ei is about creation of what might be
Science/ei denies all authority, including its own, is about the generative capabilities inherent in uncertainty
- Multiple stories for a given set of observations
- 3,5,7, .... ?
- Stories always context-dependent
- 1+1=2 or 1+1=10?
- Is where culture, individual creativity as well as reflective thought (formalization, deduction, induction, synthesis, abduction) play an important role
- Observations in turn depend on stories so story choice influences future science
- Science is as much about creation as about discovery
All understanding, in the sense of empirically based knowledge is tentative, subject to revision based on new observations and/or new stories (looping)
The quality of empirically based knowledge at any given time is related to the number of observations summarized, the number of different ways of accounting for those observations (stories) that have been considered, and the imagination of those generating stories. "Objectivity" is "shared subjectivity."
Empirically based knowledge is useful in contexts similar to those that have contributed to past observations, and useful in motivating new stories, questions, and observations
Empirically based knowledge should always be treated as a foundation from which new knowledge can be created, rather than as an end in itself.
"Knowledge," in the sense of empirically based understanding, is summaries of past observations with expectations for future observations, a starting point rather than a final word. Knowledge is always subject to revision, either based on new observations or on new stories or both. And always has an element of uncertainty to it. Acknowledging uncertainty in existing knowledge gives everybody the the ability to play a role in creating new knowledge.
Re education: objective is not to acquire knowledge but to acquire the means to create it? to "discover how to participate in the transformation of the world"? (Will take a closer look at understanding later; keep in mind "loops")
All knowledge/understanding is a product of the brain, a construction by it, a "story"
Education is a changing the brain, according to one or another particular story about how/why it should be changed, so knowing something about the brain must be relevant for education
"The truth about stories is that's all we are ... If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives" (Thomas King, The Truth About Stories) ... and our educational systems?
Your continuing thoughts about inquiry/brain/possibilities/problems in the forum below ....