Answering Questions About Education

A teacher working on her post-bac teaching certification wrote to ask me some questions for her Foundations of Education class. Below is my response. Feel free to push back/disagree or extend in the comments section.

Those are some big questions! I could write for pages on any one of them, so a caveat that this isn’t all I could say.

What do you think the purpose of education should be? I’m going to be a bit lazy (energy conserving) this one and point you to my philosophy of education. I think it addresses this question.

What knowledge do you think is of the most worth to students? I’m not 100% sure how your professor is using the term knowledge. I generally think skills are more important than knowledge, if knowledge is construed to be a particular set of facts. Perhaps the most important skill is how to learn. As a teacher, I don’t delude myself that students are going to carry with them the majority of the discrete pieces of information that they come across during the course of our classes, but I do hope they have built some habits and skills they can use forever.

(I was struggling a bit to formulate my thoughts on this question, so I tweeted it out. Here were some of the responses:

What values should teachers encourage their students to develop? Perseverance, self-discipline, curiosity, and joy.

What do you think is the best way for a students learning to be evaluated? I think students should play a role in the evaluation of their and their peers’ work. I wouldn’t advocate solely for self-evaluation because I think it’s often difficult to adequately assess our own work. (See Dan Ariely’s The Upside of Irrationality) That doesn’t make self-evaluations useless in my opinion; it just means I wouldn’t use them as the only measure of a student’s work. Ideally, the audience for a student’s work is larger than the classroom (through public presentation, posting it online, etc.), which opens up additional avenues for students to receive feedback on their work. I think many of the evaluation schemes used in education today are designed to be convenient for adults to grade and collect quantitative date from, not necessarily beneficial for structuring lessons and activities for student learning. I don’t think quantitative, standardized data should not be used, but I don’t believe it should be the sole evaluative strategy.


One thought on “Answering Questions About Education

  1. Can students enroll others in their ideas?

    I’m trying that as a major part of evaluating their projects this year – the sports project, the take action project and the problems with oil projects that we are doing this year in 7th and 8th grade. Strikes me as a pretty major skill for their success, now you got me really thinking about it in your blog. Thank you.

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