I want to teach my students that:
Everything is connected.
Everyone's beliefs should be examined from time to time and questioned.
The world is filled with interesting people, places, and ideas.
They have something to contribute to the world.
But, I can't. These lessons can't be taught, they must be learned.
That requires the student to do something.
I can create the conditions for learning to occur. I can introduce topics to discuss and debate and question.
But, ultimately, it is the student's choice whether to learn something or not.
Sadly, many are choosing to do something else.
There's a large and growing body of research on best practices of teaching. Most of it seems premised on the idea that we know exactly how students learn and therefore we know exactly how to teach them. It is largely based on the behavioral model of psychology. Push a button, get a response.
I think there's an inherent dishonesty at work in this research on teaching and learning. Dishonest because it denies an inherent complexity and subjectivity which lies at the heart of teaching.
If we’re really serious about teaching creativity and problem solving why not teach individual subjects through these skills as opposed to teaching individual subjects and hoping that students learn creativity and problem-solving as products.
Let's examine a few examples:
Brian Eno writes about a paradoxical experience he had in art school which he referred to as the “quadrangle dilemma.” “Returning one day from lunch, the students discovered a notice instructing them to assemble in the school’s courtyard, a quadrangle surrounded on all sides by studio buildings. Once all the students were inside the courtyard the door was locked from the outside by one of the teachers. There was no other exit. Then members of staff began to appear on the roofs above, watching the students from the comfort of chairs:
KEVIN J. BROWNE
Philosopher / Educator