Monthly Archives: March 2015

Not an Isolated Case

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire explains the issue with education presently is the concept he explains as “banking”.  “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive…” (72). In other words, no one is really learning anything from education, for the teacher teaches subjects that are hollow and have no relevancy, and the students eagerly take it, trusting in the knowledge of the teacher.

The problem with Education, Freire explains, is the polarization between the student-teacher relationships. He draws from Hegel in the bottom of page 72, stating that, “…students, alien Continue reading

Cloning Blues

In fiction, clones often struggle with their identities. Will they always be pale imitations of the people they are based off of? Or will they find their own purpose and deviate from the future that was predestined for them?

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Freire and the Truman Show

While reading Paulo Freire’s, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I couldn’t help but relate his depiction of the narrative style of education to the life of Jim Carrey’s character, Truman Burbank, in the satirical film, The Truman Show.  Continue reading

How Many Cells Does It Take?

Listening to RadioLab is a regular pastime for me. For those who don’t know, it’s a podcast produced by WNYC and aired by NPR. The informative, somewhat quirky guys on the show mostly discuss topics of science, but laced in is often a comment on philosophy and human experience. It was one of these podcasts, called Famous Tumors, that struck upon our discussions about identity.

There were three segments, but I will be focusing on the last one about Henrietta Lacks. To sum up, scientists had been trying to clone human cells for years for experimentation purposes, but none were successful until they successfully cloned Henrietta’s cells. Continue reading

Rousseau on Politeness

There is a quote by Fred Astaire that has to do with parenting and that also ties into the Emile readings that we’ve had. He said, “The hardest jobs kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.” Now, I personally agree with this statement. Having good manners means that you treat others as well as yourself with respect. There are many things in the world today that are constantly in childrens’ lives that affect their manners. It could be a television show that they saw their parents watching, or it could be one of their friends that always gets their way, or it could be a video game that has disrespectful characters. Children learn from these things/people that are constantly in their life.

In Emile, Rousseau distinguishes the rich from the poor, saying that, “The artificial education of the rich never fails to make them politely imperious, by teaching them the words to use so that no one will dare to resist them.” (Pg. 68) Rousseau is rejecting politeness, which is a central part of having manners. He believes that havng a different social status from one person can make you polite but also “fake”, so it is not something that people should teach their children about. He believes that children should be taught on how to “preserve” their life, and that adults should not try to keep preserving them. (pg. 42). Basically, what he believes is that children should be taught how to do things for themselves, and that adults should have a hands-off method in teaching them, letting them explore and do what they want until they reach a consequence.

Now, I don’t agree with Rousseau and his rejection of teaching politeness because I personally think that learning how to be polite, or to be respectful, especially in certain situations, can help people a lot in life. However, he is correct to an extent. Teaching your children how to be polite is not always the most important thing, because politeness can be faked. I do believe that teaching your children how to preserve their life and do things for themselves takes precedence over teaching them how to be polite, but I don’t think that Rousseau should completely write politeness out of the books. What do you guys think? Should we even be polite anymore?

Dewey Education System

In Dewey’s book Experience and Education, he attacks “traditional” and “progressive” education systems as being too restrictive and too relaxed respectively and enlightens the audience about experiential learning. Under experiment based learning, students learn by performing actions and forming hypotheses and testing them. He understands that not all experiences are beneficial, in that “any experience is mis-educative that has the effect of arresting or distorting the growth of further experience” (25). This statement could be interpreted in a few different way. One example of a bad experience is giving children too much freedom in the playground which results in them carelessly injuring their bodies in a way that could traumatize them or result in a permanent defect. Dewey explains his two criteria for effective growth of experience, in that it requires continuity (every experience will have a positive or negative influence) and interaction (how you handle current experiences is based on experiences from the past).

On the topic of experience based learning, I wonder how this system would work for the different subjects that I am taking right now. For example, how would calculus be taught as an experiential class? On some topics I can understand how hands–on experience would benefit my education, such as visually modeling the calculation of the volume of an irregular solid, however, some things taught in calculus are too theoretical to be experienced, such as deriving trigonometric derivatives. Likewise, some sections of this philosophy class can be experienced (a simulation of Plato’s education system in The Republic) while others have much more difficulty in delivering an experience (such as answering identity questions formulated by Kant).

Emotions in Education

It is plausible to say that each of us has once read educational materials which are not aligned with our interest. I recently came across an article about educational technology, classifying this problem as an “emotional” problem. Continue reading

What is Perfect Education?

As I was reading John Dewey’s Experience and Education, I kept on reflecting on our very first class at the beginning of the semester. If I remember correctly, we were all asked a very simple question: what is education? There is no point in finding the perfect model for education if its very purpose is unknown. Dewey rejects the idea that education is merely the young’s’ preparation for their future lives. To me, education is instilling in the young the urge to learn, change, and innovate.

The two conventional education models (traditional and progressive education) have failed to live up to that purpose. Dewey does an amazing job at pointing out the fallacies present in both models. In the traditional model, adults’ standards and methods are imposed on the students that do not correspond to their capacities. As a result, the concepts and ideas taught are abstract with little to no application on a student’s life. On the other hand, the progressive model offers little organization and unguided freedom. This can create a lot of “miseducative” experiences.

Due to the inherent fallacies present in both models, students must find the perfect balance between organized learning and practical experience. Because students have different capabilities and interests, the quest for the perfect balance should be a personal one. For me, I have found the perfect balance here at Emory. I run chemical reactions in lab after learning them in my organic chemistry class; I have connected the knowledge I gained in physics class with my neuroscience seminar to write a research paper on how physics is changing the field of neuroscience. I have also used my physics knowledge to better understand some problems we discussed in philosophy class. School is no longer about memorizing abstract non-applicable concepts; I am applying the knowledge in different ways and forming interdisciplinary connections. This has certainly developed my new zest for learning and knowledge.

Experiencing Through Education, Not Vice Versa

In “Educating and Experience,” John Dewey makes the distinction between the two title words in an attempt to convey how every experience itself does not necessarily lead to education, or at least not in a positive and productive manner. In the text he says, “the belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative. Experience and education cannot be directly equated to each other”(13). Although I do see some truths to these statements, I do also disagree with some of it as well.

For instance, I take particular interest in the statement “Experience and education cannot be directly equated to each other”(13). I would argue against this statement in a similar way to the square-rectangle concept where every square is a rectangle but not every rectangle is a square. I think that education equates directly to experience but not vice versa. Education should be seen as an experience in its own right whether or not the pupil regards it as such. It’s no new discovery that power of education is invigorating and provides students with plenty of experience.

However, I do agree with Dewey in terms of experiences not necessarily being educative(13). Experiences can be life altering and very educative. For example, people on shows like “Survivor” and “Naked and Afraid” learn through experience as they try to accommodate living in the wilderness. But a counterexample would be of a typical college student attending a party. Granted, the results from experience may vary, but I highly doubt that this kind of activity would result in any type of educative enlightening. What do you guys think? Do you think that education and experience do equate to each other?


Experience’s Affect Upon Society

“But there is another aspect of the matter. Experience does not go on simply inside a person. It does go on there, for it influences the formation of attitudes of desire and purpose. But this is not the whole of the story. Every genuine experience has an active side which changes in some degree the objective conditions under which experiences are had. The difference between civilization and savagery, to take an example on a large scale, is found in the degree in which previous experiences have changed the objective conditions under which subsequent experiences take place. The existence of roads, of means of rapid movement and transportation, tools, implements, furniture, electric light and power, are illustrations. Destroy the external conditions of present civilized experience, and for a time our experience would relapse into that of barbaric peoples” (15).

I found this quote very interesting for its exploration of experience in relation to civilization. In the first few sentences, Dewey claims that experience takes place within the person, as it “influences the formation of attitudes and desires” (15); however, he goes on to state that experience exists beyond the person. It is a genuine experience that can be either active or passive, changing based upon the degree of objectivity under which the experiences are had. Dewey claims that the difference between civilization and savagery is founded in the transformation previous experiences have had on the “objective conditions” (15) under which such experiences have taken place. According to him, the existence of tools are all “illustrations” (15). If we were to destroy the conditions of society, what we consider to be society would fade away.

In my Anthropology 101 class right now, we are learning about the four stages of civilization: bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states. Therefore, this comparison between civilized experience and barbaric experience can be related to what we are discussing in the Anthropology lectures. Its really fascinating to be able to relate what I learn in Philosophy to what we are discussing in Anthropology.

I agree with Dewey in that I believe that experience is the basis upon which society progresses. Previous experience allows us to make more educated decisions and serves as the foundation for the obtainment of new knowledge. The external conditions created by experience make us view society a certain way because of the social values, norms, and objects that are part of it. Take away experience, and what makes a society a certain society fades away.

However, I do not agree with Dewey in that experience defines something as barbaric versus civilized. Just because we call something barbaric does not mean it actually is. Societies function differently and are composed of different norms and tools. These differences in lifestyle, etc. do not mean that a society is less developed than ours. So in the sense of differences in culture defining the level of society, I do not agree with Dewey. I think that experience is important in forming society, and progressing society forwarded, but not in defining a society as either developed or civilized.