What is Education? Chapter 1

Ugh… it’s been so long since I posted. Things have been hectic for me for multiple reasons which I shall not name. Anyways, to continue on with my What is Education? posts, here is chapter 1.

Chapter one of Jackson’s book discusses how the author came to write this book on his philosophy of education. One could tell that the author really took the time to consider Dewey’s parting words. I’m not sure I would have taken up Dewey’s challenge as seriously as Jackson did, had I read that part of Experience and Education. And why wasn’t Jackson sure that Dewey himself knew exactly what he was asking either? (6) This also caused me to wonder, as I have been all semester long, what are the benefits of thinking about education philosophically anyway? It seems that we can never come up with a very definitive and definite answer. Thinking philosophically only seems to make my brain hurt, and not much substantial and practical work seems to get done. I guess it does have to do with the epigraph at the beginning of the book though that the “conceptual basis of [education] is a free invention of the human mind.” (xi)
By taking Dewey’s closing paragraph apart, Jackson came up with four questions:

  1. What must anything whatever be to be worthy of the name of education?
  2. What is the nature of education with no qualifying adjectives prefixed?
  3. What is education pure and simple?
  4. What conditions have to be satisfied so that education may be a reality and not a name or a slogan.

Jackson was able to come up with an initial concise definition of education: Education is a socially facilitated process of cultural transmission. (9) That brought me back to one of our first assignments that instructed us to think about education, socialization, and indoctrination. Previous to this class, I had never considered the cultural, or social, part of education, but now I am realizing how much our culture plays into the way we believe our children should be educated. Regardless, I’m not sure I like Jackson’s definition so much. It feels so mechanical and heartless. As Jackson himself realized, it also had not “explicit recognition of moral purpose.” (10) And yet, we have to start somewhere. I think that is what makes me uncomfortable with thinking about education so succinctly. How can you fit everything into one or two sentences? There’s so much to be said.

I’m still considering the matter of abstraction and contingent and immanent truths, however. I’m not sure I fully understand what it means and how we get there. According to Jackson, in pursuing knowledge of education, we are pursuing truth. I’m not sure I fully understand or agree with that, but I’m going to think about it some more.


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