Monday, February 16, 2009


My friends and family regularly hear my confession that anything that has to do with numbers makes my head swim, so it's interesting to me how I find something like Dale Harris's latest post so fascinating. I think it's the power of analogy, and the fact that, without being able to comprehend all the details, I can get so caught up in the general idea when it's explained by a master teacher like Dale.
I've been reading Kieran Egan on education (The Educated Mind, 1997; Getting it Wrong from the Beginning, 2002; The Future of Education 2008). While his work is uneven in places and often quirky, he does provide a nice summary of the state of education in the West (not only his West at Simon Fraser U) when he depicts it as a struggle among those who see education as socialization, the traditionalists who see it as passing on academic knowledge to the next generation, and the progressivists who see it as learner-centred, focusing on individuals' development. I think he makes too much of, and is inconsistent in, his claim that it is a mistake to try to keep-in-tension the three perspectives, and it seems to me that he could rework his schema of the "cognitive tools" of somatic, mythic, romantic, philosophic, and ironic understandings to fit both lists into the framework of Activity Theory's subject/object/community with tools/rules/roles (division of labour) as put forward by Yrjö Engeström.
All of that to say that I think there's something correct about the current theological interest in participation, embodiment, analogy, etc. and it funds a keeping-in-tension of these aspects of education for the sake of preserving a sense of wonder in learning, arising from the created order, certainly, but at its heart generated and guided by the Spiritus Creator.

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