Who decides Educn Goals? LO5418

Wed, 7 Feb 1996 10:23:22 -0500

Replying to LO5392 --

Rol asks if there isn't "a divergence in thinking about (the ultimate
purposes of) education even among educators?"

Educators are all over the map. Generally speaking, it seems to me that
the beginning of understanding of education in America begins with an
appreciation of the powerful formative role of the traditional
disciplines. We've lived with them for so long now, and they figure so
prominently in institutional organization, that it's almost impossible for
us to imagine either strategies for approaching the study of reality
holistically, or alternative, systemic ways of "slicing" reality apart for
the purposes of specialized study.

So we're pretty much stuck a fragmented, rather pedestrian conception of
the task, and there are lots of consequences--no agreed-upon criteria for
determining the relative value of different content, little interest in or
institutional opportunity for non-traditional fields of knowledge, a
passive, inundated-with-information role for students, increasingly
specialized jargon complicating communication and further isolating
scholars and their fields from each other, years of lag between cutting
edge insight and what makes it into the general curriculum, etc.

And, it seems to me, all this is self-reinforcing, for those attracted to
education--at least above the elementary level--are most likely to be
those intrigued not by the general problem of expanding understanding of
the human condition, or even interested in keeping their work in larger
perspective, but dedicated to the narrow challenges of fields of study the
system has led them to think of as discrete. I know of no university
offering a doctorate in "how to make it all fit together systemically."
Not only is there little interest in or provision for the generalist's
perspective, most students barely tolerate _any_ academic requirement not
solidly within their majors.

That surely says something important about their conceptions of self.

Marion Brady


Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>