I recently came across the following statement by the Australian educator Hedley Beare, which I found pretty awesome and at the same time simple and obvious:
“Reductionism is why the curriculum is structured in the way that it is, cut up into key learning areas…Positivism is why science and maths are pre-eminent in the curriculum…Rationality is why values formation has always been an incidental rather than a central part of the curriculum. Quantitative analysis . The measurable is safer to handle than the intangible. As a result, the intuitive, the expressive, the unmeasurable, the subjective and the intensely personal have never found a satisfactory place in the curriculum.“
My immediate question was whether the reason for the above are the limitations of the human mind. And then automatically I challenged myself, saying that an education system and content can directly influence the limits of our minds – if there are any. Also, thinking about the human kind’s history, even though we have failed to measure the intangible (oximoron), we have always searched and searched and reflected and gone deeper, trying to find some answers to our big questions. I have the feeling that this happens less and less these days. Philosophy classes are not that cool anymore (to most), cause they are considered not-practical and therefore useless and reflection is something that is rarely used in Education as a learning method. Even history is being taught in such a sterilized way that the whole point of “learning from the mistakes or successes of the past” is totally missing.
The thing is that learning is not an issue of input-output, it definitely is not a one way sender-receiver relationship and it requires a lot of maturity and consciousness from the adults. My question about “education with character” is not just about knowing what is right and wrong (which of course is the first important step) but actually applying that learning in the critical times of life, when job is at stake, under peer pressure etc etc.That requires value driven individuals, strong-willed and respect for self and the world.
By no means, am I saying that there is nothing good happening out there. There are so many people every day doing their best to create better human beings that is just inspiring. I came across this documentary from 1990, about some revolutionary schools in the USA, (so it is real examples), which nearly brought tears to my eyes. If you have some time, it’s definitely worth seeing, despite the bad quality.
Finishing off with a question, which is worth to reflect a bit upon for the different places we live at. If we assume that a. Education depends on the context it is being developed and despite the international policies etc, b. there is no one method that can be applied across cultures and c. the reality of my/your country right now (Greece), what are these values and skills that should be an integral part of the learning at schools and Universities? ( a bit of input at the following article.