What is Education?


I didn’t post yesterday. I was super unmotivated yesterday. I played all the games on my phone. Not literally, but a good many. Since I’ve gotten my phone back (finally), I’ve become enamoured (yes, I like the “u” there) with it again, and can’t put it down. This isn’t good for my productivity. But I beat one of the new games I had downloaded, so hopefully I can stop having itchy fingers all the time. (Itchy in the sense that I constantly want to pull my phone out and play with it.)

I have to write a blog for my Philosophy of Education class. Instead of writing two blogs, I thought I would just post what I write there here. (Did that make sense?) Ya’ll might be interested in the things that we’re discussing in class. Maybe. But it’s something that I have to think a lot about and so it might as well spill over into this blog. I’m supposed to post about a chapter at a time, so this will help me have more fodder for this blog too.

The book that we’re currently reading and blogging about is Philip W. Jackson’s What is Education?

I just copied the image from the Amazon site. If you click on the image, nothing will happen. You will not get to look inside. Sorry. But if you follow the link to the Amazon site you will!

Anyways, without further ado, here’s my post for class (It may seem garbled and disorderly, but the prompt asks me to write my gleanings and thoughts, musings questions, and sense-making from the book–I guess my usual blog writing is somewhat incoherent so you guys might be used to it.):

What is education? What is it, really? Before this class, this is not a question that I really thought about. I suppose that as an aspiring teacher, it should have been, but my thoughts were more consumed with ways to teach, or things that would make me an effective teacher. This book, however, and its author, Philip W. Jackson, asks us to probe the idea of education. I like that Jackson starts his Introduction with the question, “What is there to learn about education that we don’t already know?” (1) My first reaction was, “Surely, there is something for us to learn about. People are changing and technology is changing and the whole world seems to be changing. Why wouldn’t we want to learn more?” My second reaction was the thought, “But the more things change, the more things stay the same.” I guess I don’t have an answer, but I’m sure through this book, I will develop one.

Another thing that might become clearer as we go through the book is the quotes that appear before the table of contents. Einstein said, “The conceptual basis of physics is a free invention of the mind.” (vi) Jackson’s quote is, “As goes physics, likewise education.” (vi) The fact that I don’t understand very much of physics or the philosophy of physics (is there such a thing?) entails probably inhibits me from fully understanding the quotations. I hope it becomes clearer through the rest of the book. It seems rather enigmatic to me to have those quotations at the beginning of the book.

It was also interesting to trace Jackson’s educational background and how he came to be so interested in Dewey. It seemed that every school he attended had Deweyan (is there such a word?) influences. The University of Chicago, most obviously with Dewey’s laboratory school there, with his colleagues and atmosphere of the school also greatly influenced his delving into Dewey’s philosophy of education. This makes me wonder, where are the influences of Dewey at this school? Is this something that I will more and more be pickled in? I mean that not in a negative way, because I do hope to understand more of his philosophy and thinking about education.

Jackson also quotes Penn Jillette in saying, “One of the quickest ways to find out if you’re wrong is to state what you believe.” (3) I suppose that’s why we came up with our Refined Initial Definition of Education (RIDE) at the beginning of the semester. Mine was: “Education is bringing students to the point that they are able to think critically about the world in which they live. It is preparing them to be and desire to be the best that they can be within their community.” Having gone through the Philosophy of Education by Nel Noddings and learning about the different philosophies, I think that there are already changes I would like to make to my definition. I’m sure that by the end of this book I will have more changes to make to it. As I think deeply on education, which I’m sure I’m bound to do through this book, I anticipate finding out where I was wrong–or my definition requires some adjustment. But at least I have had a starting point. From here it is where my journey through my own philosophy of education begins. I am rather excited for where it might lead.

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