4: Visionaries: Education
(This is the 4th
of a 6-lecture series for Senior University Georgetown, October
The first lecture,
introduced the idea
of visionary and the different types, considering the paradigm
The second lecture explored new
dimensions of philosophy.
lecture considers visionaries in field of psychology,
and extensions of
psychology in the direction of creativity, play, and other
This is the fourth lecture and deals with visionaries in
the realm of Education, which is one extension
The fifth lecture considers the
idea of the evolution of consciousness. (See the lecture
given on that subject in 2009).
The sixth lecture considers the
the topic of interspirituality. (This also speaks
to the lecture series given for the Senior
University in the Spring of 2008.)
and there's a related webpage that
summarizes the series.
Education can become
established by unthinking tradition. Too often it is modified to
the convenience of the administrators: How can the most people
educated at the lowest price and we can still claim it to be
education? There is controversy and envisioning going on in this
institution, and different theories appear---some of those to be
mentioned anon---because there continues to be questioning of
should be taught and how it should be taught.
To the right are portraits of four key visionaries: Jean-Jacques
at the upper left was an influential writer in the
century, the "Enlightenment" in Western Europe. He imagined that
children were by no means just little adults, but had their own
of thinking---and should therefore be approached with a modified
approach to education. To the upper right is a picture of a
educator who built on these ideas, Pestallozi.
On the lower left was Friederich
another innovator, influenced by Rousseau and Pestalozzi, who
the notion of a pre-school, a "kindergarten," in which a range
natural childish activities in art, music, dance, play, games,
part of the curriculum. Building on this a half-century later
pioneering work of Maria
Montessori, lower right. (Many more photos of her
can be found on the internet.)
is of course an extension of psychology, and especially several
that come together. There is child development---how do kids
mature and what can best promote their strengths? There is also
question of what young people need to know in the 21st
different from what they needed to know how to do in the 20th
Education now is recognized as a process that goes on through
is evidenced by elders continuing their learning in our own
University Georgetown and this class as an example. For adults,
a name for the art of helping grown-ups further their educatonal
For kids the art of education is also called "pedagogy," while
adults, working off those word roots, it's called "androgogy."
Education for adults must of necessity be driven more by what
want to learn and what they're willing to put up with than kids.
4 Carrying on from lectures 2 and 3, philosophy and psychology,
what do we then teach? And is teaching even the right word?
5. How pedagogy, andragogy what age start some of those
6 Some of the people to be discussed,
7. Instruction vs stimulus... efficiency!
8. How to cultivate spunk, self-motivation, risk-taking,
creativity thinking for 21st century
Not just obedience
and take test to show that...
PhD in some circles only for
substantial contributions something new...
not be so today...
9. Pestalozzi, influenced by Rousseau, who spoke of the natural
of humanity,, the Enlightenment philosophy, and Froebel... open
innate potentiality of curiosity, vitality in childhood, versus
oppression of mere instruction...
10. Whitehead around 1916 spoke out against this idea of dry
versus picking up on the why something is worth learning
called it Romance—
11. I’ll give just a tiny appetizer here about Maria Montessori,
because her schools and theories are still going strong,
early childhood education.
Mainly, set up a well-designed learning
and the kids’ natural tendencies towards curiosity and mastery
the rest. Sort of a build it and they will come philosophy.
12. She’s a cultural figure worth remembering because your kids
sending their kids to a montessori school? Both my kids did this
What about yours?
13. Raised in Italy, she was bright, took engineering classes,
went to medical school in her early 20s when again it wasn’t
women to do this. Mntessori thus figures in the history of
14. She made a splash in many centers. It should be noted
number of cultural trends in America worked against her
ideal of efficiency and mass education for the inflow of
15.. Her son Mario assisted her, like Anna Freud assisted her
Major figures often have more or less obvious helpers who do a
the ground work.
16. Montessori’s story is complex and has many aspects. One of
that it might be argued that like Freud and others, efforts to
ideas pure conflicted with others who sought to distill out the
elements and integrate them more widely.
17. Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and his theories about
added a more spiritual bent, but there are now a number of
schools trying to amplify his efforts. How many people have had
friends who explored this frontier?
18. John Dewey influenced a host of teachers who wanted to get
the merely fulfill the expectations of administrators who were
to fulfill the expectations of the school board who were
representative of fundamentally conservative and ignorant
The thing is the fundamental
that knowledge involves information, wisdom isn’t different from
knowing a lot of facts, the $64 thousand dollar quiz shows.
Assessment of true
hardly recognized today. In Fiddler on the Roof, If I was a rich
has a line, “when you’re rich, they think you really know.”
The idea that there are people
think more creatively, more flexibly than most folks is
unknown. This is one of the key points in this lecture.
19. Creativit in Education
We need people who can compete with bright kids in other
There are more kids in China who are in what we
the upper 10% than there are all kinds of kids in the USA. Ditto
because they have three or four times the number of people. So
we do? We can teach to what is needed rather than teach in the
folks were taught a century ago.
20. Pink’s book
21. There’s a phenomenon known as flow. You’ve tasted it in all
probability. It’s when you’re totally in the groove and what
happen is that you’re smarter or more skilled than you knew you
What’s that about and what can we do to help people tap into it?
22. Moreno, again, and Paul Torrance, one of the pionners in
education—and more specifically, creativity in education, and
in action methods, role playing, learning by doing, experiential
23 Pause here and recognize that Moreno’s visionary status
very perceptive awareness. There is a powerful pull towards
and mental inertia—I personally consider this to be as pervasive
even more basic than Freud’s theories about what messes us up.
sex, but I think mental laziness, what Whitehead called “fatigue
reason,” the unwillingness to think—because thinking involves
risk-taking. You don’t always know what you think or have a
is right. So you back up and give up.
24 Dare to reinvent the wheel.
25. The qualities of character drawn forward overlap with what I
last week about positive psychology, and creativity, but the
is the theme of courage.
In a competitive
which a mistake is a big deal, goes on your permanent record,
safe squashes all the rest. I’m being subversive here! Courage
freedom to mess up and talk about it without being shamed.
requires a teacher who can pause in the teaching and get curious
why a seemingly good idea doesn’t work.
26, I agree with this idealistic vision, but note that it misses
consider to be the main category, the part of the mind that is
exquisitely sensitive to social cues, to people thinking you’re
or slowing the class down. We just want to learn what’s going to
the test, so stop distracting the process.! Let’s not
power of peer pressure, and the power of picking up on the
sense of stress and urgency in the contemporary
climate. It’s like stopping a mumbled religious ceremony in
people really think God wants to hear the right words or will be
annoyed, and asking, “Wait, what is the meaning of what we’re
What few clergy want to admit is that they could not begin to
Similarly, teachers are anxious because they’re teaching what
told to teach and cannot really explore the question right below
surface: Why do we have to learn this stuff?
27. Again, a subversive chart: what is this alternative
and scenarios? What does that do to right answers on the test?
Here is the safety feature that feeds in,
attitudes to risk, environment—taboo to ask about.
28 Educators and Employers aren’t on the same page yet. Should
How much are school superintendents rewarded for true visionary
rather than satisfying the school board who may be fairly
ignorant—believing in obsolete ideas about what education should
29. Other visions I’ve entertained:
30 I am not alone by any means, but I do support and have
national teleconferences on experiential education. This I
be a visionary element, drama, sociodrama, thinking about new
learning. On my website several articles. Google Adam Blatner +
31. Another vision is the idea of teaching practical psychology
in the schools, anti-bullying, etc.
32 other aspects of education
33 And again role playing is good as a teaching tool. But
the use of a user-friendly language based on role—all the
34 need for User friendly... ness in computers...
35 user friendly language
36. Adult education, senior university
37. Principles andragogy... perhaps begin to apply them in
high school or earlier?
38. So this idea of re-examining assumptions of
for a generation raised on cell phones may invite further
39 principles again, notices situation, societal
types of learning, broadening our thinking. Steve Jobs never had
college education. What are they good for? This question is
more intensively nowadays, and you’ll be called to help or not
your grandkids college, maybe.
40 Another innovation, a visionary, is right brain /left brain
thinking... what is the non-rational brain? Montessori, Steiner,
others had a lot of respect, but they don’t respond to right
wrong answers, you can’t teach to the test.
41. What do YOU think?
42. Some ideas I have..
43.. Other ideas
44. This is just a beginning. I have other ideas, and I’m sure
you do too.