The Process of Education

  • Ideally, interest in the material to be learned is the best stimulus to learning, rather than such external goals as grades or later competitive advantage.
  • Not teaching devices, but teachers, are the principle agents of instruction and more importantly, learning.
  • The first object of any act of learning, over and beyond the pleasure it may give, is that it should serve us in the future. Learning should not only take us somewhere; it should allow us later to go further more easily.
  • Mastery of the fundamental ideas of a field involves not only the grasping of general principles, but also the development of a attitude toward leaning and inquiry, toward guessing and hunches, toward the possibility of solving problems on one’s own.
  • Unless detail is placed into a structured pattern, it is rapidly forgotten.
  • At each stage of development a person has a characteristic way of viewing the world and explaining it to himself. The task of teaching a subject to a person at any particular developmental stage is one of representing the structure of that subject in terms of the person’s way of viewing things.
  • Learning a subject seems to involve three almost simultaneous processes. First, there is acquisition of new information — often information that runs counter to or is a replacement for what the person has previously known. A second aspect of learning may be called transformation — the process of manipulating knowledge to make it fit new tasks. Transformation comprises the ways we deal with information in order to go beyond it. A third aspect of learning is evaluation — checking whether the way we have manipulated information is adequate to the task.
  • The quest, it seems to many, is to devise materials that will challenge the superior student while not destroying the confidence and the will-to-learn of those who are less fortunate. We have no illusions about the difficulty of such a course, yet it is the only one open to us if we are to pursue excellence and at the same time honor the diversity of talents we must educate.
  • Somewhere between apathy and wild excitement, there is an optimum level of aroused attention that is ideal for classroom activity.
  • Films, audio-visual aids and other such devices may have the short-run effect of catching attention. In the long run, they may produce a passive person waiting for some sort of curtain to go up to arouse him. The issue is particularly relevant in an entertainment oriented, mass-communication culture where passivity and “spectatorship” are dangers.
  • If teaching is done well and what we teach is worth learning, there are forces at work that will provide the external prod that will get people more involved in the process of learning than they were in the past.
  • There is much discussion about how to give our schools a more serious intellectual tone, about the relative emphasis on athletics, popularity, and social life on the one hand and on scholarly application on the other.
  • The teacher’s tasks as communicator, model and identification figure can be supported by a wise use of a variety of devices that expand experience, clarify it, and give it personal significance.

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