“It is with children that we have the best chance of studying the development of logical knowledge, mathematical knowledge, physical knowledge, and so forth.” – Jean Piaget
Pedagogy – noun
ped·a·go·gy \ ˈpe-də-ˌgō-jē –
the art, science, or profession of teaching; especially
If you are reading this, this means that at some point between your birth and now, you’ve learned.
You have learned about the nature of yourself and your surroundings.
You have learned how to manipulate language, how to read, and how to write.
You have learned how to perform the magic trick of getting the contents of your brain into others and vice versa.
These things, among others, can be said with certainty because they combine to constitute the barrier to entry into this conversation. However, what cannot be said with the same level of confidence is whether or not you have learned how to learn.
Odds are that you might have entertained a curiosity regarding this subject, yet, do you recall being met readily with answers to questions regarding this topic? Certainly not as concretely as one might encounter answers in more classically understood subjects like the physical sciences or math. Now, I am not proposing that epistemological queries should have as clear and concise responses as one might find when investigating physics. My question is, rather, might we all benefit from a better general understanding how learning works in each of us, and, an inclusion of such study in the way that we educate our children?
Why are we talking about this?
Whether or not we might individually have children, I argue that this is as important to us, now, as it might be to any children educated in the light of any improvements in understanding of this field. I believe that we must continue to learn and challenge ourselves, even in late adulthood, and that this topic could lead to better ways to do so. Additionally, if we are interested in radical improvements in the future of our species, no source of ingenuity can be considered greater than the potential of compounding benefits represented in the pluripotency of all the young brains currently forming and those destined to form in the future. Therefore, it seems foolish to leave something as theoretically important as this up to any one government, governing body, school of thought, culture, or any philosophical regime. As can be seen in the in recent studies like the one published by UNESCO (Chartier and Geneix, 2007), we have a huge amount of data regarding different approaches to education with many differences seen around the world. And, there are indeed a stable of researchers interested in moving this field of study further, seen in researches like Moss and his colleagues at the University College London (Moss, 2017) and many others. It seems, however, that what will set us up for more intense improvement would be an increase in interest from the general public and demand in increased funding of this effort.
You might ask, “Why should I care about this?”
Let us look at it this way: What is more important? The work of Einstein, or, the ability to encourage the growth and development of multiple Einstein level intelligences?
Through the history of our understanding of how children development, we have uncovered many different ideas about how to raise them appropriately. This often leads to ideas on how to teach these tiny, growing humans. For instance, the Montessori Method (Montessori, 2013) came out of Signora Montessori’s description and understanding of how children grow and her seeing that how a child is educated would have ramifications for the rest of their life. Additionally, the psychology of child behavior as understood by Piaget lead him and those he influenced to offer their own methods of education. The main enemy to these and all suggested methods was the resistance presented by the status quo. It seems as though many people, especially those that have been successful already, although by no means exclusively, resist the very idea of change.
We must let go of this defensiveness.
Change of a system must be looked at as a possible improvement, instead of a negative value judgement.
This, to me represents the main opposition force in the way of radical positive change.
Another distinct barrier to improvement appears to be instability. Historically, this was seen in the destruction and appropriation of the Kindergarten system by the Third Reich, severe poverty in the developing world, and anywhere that government upheaval is considered a constant. Long periods of stability must be a common goal.
Additionally, there is a risk that any effort to “systemize” any future advances in this field would in turn continue to treat individual children as part of a set and cause similar harms as current systems. On some level, this must be done in order to develop systems. The proposal would be to develop a pluralistic system in which every child could pursue the form of education that best suits their style of learning.
In closing, I am optimistic that we are well on the road to a paradigm shift in the educational world. Let us all take steps to aid this process:
- Be interested in how you learn and continue to challenge yourself mentally
- Encourage this interest in the children you are around
- Support teachers in as many ways possible
- Write to elected officials demanding support for educational reform
- Talk about this with each other
- Be comfortable with change
It may seem like there are bigger fish to fry than tackling education reform right now. I believe that if we espouse the importance of this topic, it in turn supports the optimistic outlook that our world has a bright future and shows our commitment to it.
Chartier, A. M., & Geneix, N. (2007). Pedagogical approaches to early childhood education. Documento de referencia para el Informe de Seguimiento de la EPT en el Mundo.
Moss, P. (2017). Power and resistance in early childhood education: From dominant discourse to democratic experimentalism. Journal of Pedagogy, 8(1), 11-32.
Montessori, M. (2013). The montessori method. Transaction publishers.
Piaget, J. (2013). The construction of reality in the child (Vol. 82). Routledge.