The Vietnam war protest movement taught me that rebellion was good and government bad, that freedom was good and control was bad.
In applying this principle to education, the methodology of behaviourism seemed to symbolise the main thing that was wrong with School and Education. That it was BORING.
Behaviourism and / or rote learning was a sophisticated form of child abuse, a denial of freedom.
The Vietnam war had a racist element to it. Moreover racism at home directed at indigenous Australians took the form of either genocide or assimilation. Assimilation was equivalent to cultural death, a denial of indigenous culture.
Seymour Papert taught me that computers could be used in hands on personal ways that empowered naive users in deep ways, that personal learning was good and rote was bad (1).
But the experience working in a disadvantaged school taught me that behaviourist learning had its place in education too (2).
Noel Pearson taught me that the most difficult problem of social inequality, that of indigenous Australians, could be analysed and progress made (3).
Peter Sutton taught me that the indigenous question still remained an incredibly difficult problem (4).
Zig Engelmann taught me how to scale learning using behaviourist educational design (direct instruction) (5)
Hence, I have gone full cycle, returning to my starting point and seeing the same issues with new eyes. That freedom can be dangerously misguided and control can be good.
(1) Papert's ideas: Mainly from Mindstorms
(2) The place of behaviourism in schools
(3) Radical Hope: Education and Equality in Australia
(4) The Politics of Suffering
Bookchin and Marx - Today Bookchin himself belongs to the past, the very past he implored his readers to shed for the sake of the future. Continue reading →
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