What is Education? Chapter 2


Here is the next chapter.

In this chapter, Jackson comes up with five kinds of truth that he believes are central to what education is about. These truths are factual, systematic, instrumental, moral, and subjective. My first response to reading truth divided into categories and that these different kinds of truths are to keep teachers on their toes (15) is–do teachers, in the midst of a crazy classroom, really consider what kind of truth they’re teaching? I think it’s important to realize the different kinds of knowledge that one is imparting to students, but to divide it into categories seems to me a little excessive. Maybe it’s because I’m inexperienced in actually teaching and I don’t actually know what I think I know. If one is philosophizing, however, I suppose it is understandable that one would like to make sense of all that is going on in a classroom.

I thought it would have helped if Jackson gave an example of what was systematic or ideational truth. Calling them “bodies” of knowledge seemed to me rather vague, especially when he said that they are open-ended, and “our grasp of them is always finite, but it remains capable of expansion, even infinitely so.” (16) That made it seem like systematic truths were very elusive. Also, if the “chief business of education is preserving and transmitting systematic truths,” (16) who gets to decide what is preserved and what is worth transmitting? Do we keep all systematic truth? Are some more important than others?

I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with Jackson’s phrase, “trafficking in truth.” When I see “trafficking” I think of something illegal, like drug trafficking or trafficking people. I guess that’s just the context of how we as a society use “trafficking.” By the end of the chapter, I kind of got the sense that perhaps Jackson’s “trafficking” is more like traffic. If teachers are managing the traffic, they are managing the direction? The coming and going? Or are they managing the kind of information that is being passed around? Or perhaps passed around isn’t the right word. It’s not like they’re passing around a ball. Maybe Jackson’s use of “transmission” is more apt. It’s probable that teachers do both: manage the traffic and the content. After all, isn’t the discussion of truth the content? But why are teachers in control of truth in the first place? Shouldn’t it have arisen from the individual?

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