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Of Error and Explanation

A provisional philosophy of education

Hugh Kelly

Originally written for an M.Ed. course at George Mason University

Summer of 2007
Of Error and Exploration

Since education is the endeavor of helping people attain a more knowledgeable and perhaps even

a wiser outlook and since the Greek word philosophy translates as the love of wisdom, it would not be

unreasonable to say that a philosophy of education is a philosophy of philosophy. In contemporary times

people tend to think of philosophy as another university subject, alongside sociology, engineering, and

accounting, but it is actually the approach which encompasses these and all other academic disciplines

under the aegis of concepts such as logic, truth, and human nature. Therefore, writing a philosophy of

education entails, at least as a starting point, a rather expansive consideration of education. However,

this essay is delimited by the fact that it is for an assignment which is designed to encourage me, the

developing educator, to elucidate my beliefs about teaching and learning at this point in time as opposed

to a definitive statement on the nature of education. Not only is this essay more informal than most

university work in that it is written in the first person, it is also provisory, as my understanding of the

educational process is changing rapidly due to the fact that after seven years of teaching primarily by

instinct and by copying others I am for the first time in an environment that is conducive to deeper

reflection on both my practices and education in general. Therefore, like Heraclitus river, my

educational philosophy is sure to flow and change, and this essay is a brief instant in what I hope to be a

lifelong interest in education.

While there may not be quite as many types of education as there are people, there are certainly a

great number. From the American middle school student to the novice Buddhist monk to the Yanomami

youth, needs and goals of learners vary widely. The discussion of education in this essay will be limited

to that of the child and adolescent learner and the professional teacher in the setting of a school in a

contemporary, liberal democracy. The first section of this essay considers the goals of education, the

second section compares three different models of the educational process, and the third section

describes two ways of viewing the ideal relationship between learners and teachers.

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The Goals of Education

Autonomy

Just as individual teachers should be aware of their objectives before they design a lesson, so

should all those in the involved in the K-12 educational process consider its goals. When a boy asks why

he has to go to school, most parents probably answer, So you can grow up and get a good job. One

need look no further than the Fast Train program to see that better prospects for future employment is

certainly one of the main motivators for students of any age. Of course, it is not that work itself that

entices students to spend long hours studying, but rather the monetary rewards that go along with work,

and ultimately the ability to purchase the things we need and want with that money. While many young

people no doubt aspire to be as financially successful as Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates, the reality is that

most educated people achieve a more modest level of wealth. However, Christopher Winch puts the goal

of economic security into the broader context of autonomy by contending that a salary that covers ones

basic needs is one of the factors that allows young people to be independent of their parents and other

caregivers, thus contributing to their autonomy (Winch, 2002). Education also provides autonomy in a

number of other ways including helping students break free of oppressive aspects of their culture or

individual family and by allowing them to take advantage of opportunities that they otherwise would not

have had, such as, in the case of second language instruction, being able to interact with the target

language community both professionally and socially.

Socialization

Paradoxically, just as education can help a young person become more independent, so too can it

help him or her to become more integrated into the community. From the first day of pre-school when a

child begins to learn to share toys to the last years of high school when students typically take a civics or

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government course in which they consider their rights and responsibilities as citizens, socialization is an

important part of the educational process. While this process can be negative, such as in the case of a

school that persistently attempts to impose conformity, an ideal educational environment will encourage

the students to cultivate and express their individuality and at the same time to develop positive

relationships with their peers and to contribute to the society at large. Appropriate socialization entails

the development of an ethical conscience, and while teachers have a role in fostering this process, it is

also the purview of parents, faith communities, and other adults with whom the young person spends

time. The extent to which and in what manner the teacher should endeavor to foster moral education

depends upon many factors and is further discussed in the section of this essay on the youth-elder

relationship in education.

Cognition: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Open-mindedness

Taken together, the goals of autonomy and socialization can be seen as helping the student

become a self-supporting and responsible member of society. The third goal of education, to develop a

students ability to think, is focused on the individual mind. To give an ample definition of what it is to

think is beyond the scope of this essay, but on a basic level the educator should endeavor to help a

student develop his or her ability in three areas of cognition: critical thinking, problem-solving, and

open-mindedness.

Douglas J. Soccio defines critical thinking as, the conscious, deliberate rational assessment of

claims according to clearly identified standards of proof (Soccio, 1992). This definition is quite useful

for evaluating objective forms of knowledge such as scientific hypotheses and understanding how to

properly evaluate research data and other types of hard evidence is a powerful ability. While the term

critical implies testing the claims of another, the contemporary usage of the term also includes the

ability to think abstractly in general, whether in order to compare two literary works, to understand

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applications of Newtons Three Laws of Motion, or to consider whether or not Francos Spain was a

totalitarian society. Thus Matthew Lipman gives a broader definition of the term, holding that critical

thinking is thinking that facilitates judgment because it relies on criteria, is self-correcting, and is

sensitive to context (Lipman, 1991).

The use of judgment is also integral to the second class of thought, problem solving. Unlike

critical thinking which is focused on explaining phenomena as they are, finding a solution to a problem

involves some type of action. For this reason, problem solving is often very satisfying for students

because it allows them to become active participants in the content area. While problem solving is the

most common activity in math classes, in most schools it is not as common in the sciences, and quite

rare on the humanities side of the curriculum. One way to integrate this vital aspect of cognition into the

humanities is to allow for productions and scenarios. Two examples of this are the production of a scene

from a play or novel in English class, giving students the opportunity to solve a series of problems

including related to group coordination and artistic representation, and the use of scenarios in social

studies, such those used in Model United Nations classes.

Those who solve problems in unexpected ways have learned to think outside the box.

Those who are able to evaluate their own beliefs and opinions with the same level of scrutiny with

which they analyze the hypotheses of others have learned to apply their skills of critical thinking

inwardly. The trait that both of these share is open-mindedness, which involves both ability and

willingness. One must have the willingness to recognize that ones ideas at any given moment are

limited, incomplete, and at least partially incorrect and the ability to perceive new possibilities (Hare,

2002).

As a final point, of the goals of autonomy, socialization, critical thinking, problem solving, and

open-mindedness should not be seen as separate aims, but rather as interdependent traits that, taken

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together, lead to the development of capable, thoughtful, and responsible adults. If one accepts these as

legitimate goals of primary and secondary education, the next step is to consider how the educational

process can achieve these goals.

The Educational Process

In this section of the essay I compare three different models of the educational process: the

transmission model, in which students are assumed to learn objectified information transmitted by

teachers, the dialectic model, in which the teacher prompts the student with a series of questions, and the

evolution model, in which the learning process is similar to Darwins natural selection in that new

phenomena, whether real or intangible, challenge a students preexisting notions, leading to the

evolution of an understanding better suited to the new phenomenological environment. These three

models and much of the supporting information in this section come from Learning from Our Mistakes

(Perkinson, 1984).

Transmission

Ones beliefs about the educational process are inevitable informed by ones beliefs about

knowledge. In our modern, scientific, and business-minded society knowledge, like everything else, is

often objectified. If it is remains essentially unchanged, regardless of who is knowing, then knowledge

can be reduced to mere information, be it valence, the three branches of government, or the principle

themes in Hamlet, and education is reduced to a process of transmission of education from teacher to

student. According to Perkinson Francis Bacon, among the early developers of the scientific method,

was one of the first thinkers to conceive of education as the study of objective facts (Perkinson, 1984, p.

9). In his own time this was a great step forward in many ways since the most of the thinkers of the

Middle Ages based their worldview on deduction, dogmatically predicting specifics on the basis of

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general principles, many of which were based upon religious doctrine. However, one drawback of the

scientific method, which deduces general principles from individual data, is that it tends to

compartmentalize phenomena. For example, while Western medicine has been extremely successful at

understanding and treating specific maladies such as appendicitis, in which the offending part can be

surgically removed, Eastern medicine, which looks at the human body, mind and soul as a whole, offers

better and more holistic ways to heal more systemic maladies.

In some ways Enlightenment philosophy in general, and especially Lockes theory of the infant

mind as a blank slate, contributed to this interpretation of education. However, if one reads Bacon or

Locke it is evident that neither would have endorsed the more extreme examples of education as

transmission found in some schools, for the works of both of these thinkers are exemplars of profound

and original thought. The most extreme form of the transmission method is found in those classrooms

where the teacher writes the content information on the board and students are expected to copy it and

repeat it verbatim on exams, much as one would check a computer hard drive to make sure that ones

files had been saved correctly. However, the content area is not the only thing that is objectified in this

process. In his introduction Perkinson quotes Jean-Jacques Rousseaus Emile, in which the last

Enlightenment thinker and the first Romantic says essentially that man attempts to shape, tame, and

cultivate all natural things including man himself in spite of the fact that humans are organic beings that

must be allowed to develop naturally (Perkinson, 1984, p. 15). Education as transmission has been

largely discredited, not only because students are merely memorizing data as opposed to improving their

cognitive abilities, but also because it tends to squelch the motivation of students by not providing any

personal connection. In addition to being ineffective, viewing education as transmission can actually be

detrimental to the students process of socialization into a liberal democratic society because it puts the

teacher in the position of the expert authority and the student in the position of obedient worker. For this

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same reason, the transmission approach tends to be quite popular in authoritarian societies. In the words

of Perkinson, when teachers try to convert education into a process of transmission they demean the

humanity of their students and they themselves become authoritarian (Perkinson, 1984).

Dialectic

In contrast to education by transmission, which tends to view only observable, discrete facts as

true, education as a dialectic, the second model of the education process, features a dialogue between

teacher and student in which the teacher patiently elicits logical conclusions from the student and tends

to consider truth as a distant principle towards which human beings may move but can never completely

experience. The most famous proponent of education as dialectic was Plato, or perhaps Socrates as

described by Plato. By depicting Socratic thought in the form of a series of dialogues Plato sets an

example for good teaching by making his educational practice consistent with his beliefs. In The

Republic, Plato holds that there is ultimate truth resides in a metaphysical realm of ideas and that objects

in the physical world are imperfect facsimiles of their ideal forms. Because humans live in the physical

world, the objects that we see are mere shadows of these ideal forms. However, through a careful

reasoning process that he called philosophy, Plato held that we can at least get closer to perceiving

ultimate reality (Plato, 2005, 708).

Historians of philosophy disagree on the extent to which Plato was representing the ideas of

Socrates, as opposed to setting forth his own views, but most would agree that Socrates was the

inspiration for many of Platos core beliefs. Therefore, by presenting the teachings inspired by Socrates,

who apparently refused to write anything down, in the form of a dialogue Plato has nested the subject to

be learned within three shells of interpretation. First, Socrates himself only taught in a dialectic format

commonly referred to as the Socratic Method because the teacher answers each of the students

questions with another question. This presents the truth to the student in a more humble and patient way,

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suggesting to the student that not even the teacher has a monopoly on truth, which each person must

endeavor to discover. Second, in his dialogues Plato himself is never the student with whom Socrates is

speaking. Rather, Plato is a third party who has heard about the dialogue from the student himself. For

example, in the Symposium Apollodorus, who reports what Socrates said, heard everything from

Aristodemus who was actually there to hear it for himself (Plato, 2005, p. 258). Third, Plato recorded

these dialogues on paper meaning that the ancient Greek reader had also to contend with the textual

filter. Furthermore, the modern English-speaking reader must contend with several additional layers

between himself or herself and the teachings of Socrates such as the quality of translation and the

cultural differences between the contemporary world and ancient Greece. Thus the truth can be depicted

as concealed within a series of concentric shells. Thus Platos dialogues are exemplars of education

where the form and the content mesh seamlessly to help the learner understand.

Platos approach may seem inefficient and frustrating to some students and teachers, especially

those that are caught in a transmission paradigm, but in addition to teaching us that no person has a

monopoly on absolute truth, the Socratic Method demands the active participation of the learner. This

will be further addressed in the section on the learner-teacher relationship.

Evolution

While the Socratic Method is certainly a far cry from education as transmission in that it requires

the student to explore the given topic through a series of questions framed by the teacher, in the

third model of the educational process, the evolutionary model, learning takes place only when

the student to test his or her beliefs against reality. Referring to this model as A Darwinian

Theory of Education, Perkinsons theoretical basis for this model was Karl Poppers

evolutionary epistemology (Perkinson, 1984, p. 163). According to Popper, the growth of

knowledge is always the same: we try to solve our problems and to attain, by a process of

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evolution, something approaching adequacy of our tentative solutions (Perkinson, 1984, p.39).

As evinced by the title of his book, Perkinson believes that people learn best by committing

errors and then changing their viewpoint and practices in order to avoid similar errors in the

future. In his model cannot simply be passive recipients of transmitted dates, but rather must be

actively involved in their educational process, seeking to create an ordered understanding of their

environment (Perkinson, 1984, p. 41). Furthermore, human understanding must always be a

work in process. The knowledge [students] create is imperfect, their theories contain errors,

their skills are inadequate (Perkinson, 1984, p. 168). Beliefs, theories, and skills grow and adapt

in the face of our errors. In short, human understanding evolves.

Perkinson draws upon the work of several of the Twentieth Centurys most famous

educational theorists in order to explore the application of evolutionary model of education. In

order to show that humans learn as a response to physical, mental, and emotional suffering,

Perkinson cites the work of Piaget and Skinner. Inspired by Piagets concept of equilibration to

describe a childs quest for order, Perkinson holds that disequilibration, the feeling of aversion

and suffering that results from mistakes, spurs further development (Perkinson, 1984, p. 59). One

would assume that Perkinson is in agreement with Piaget that certain types of intellectual

growth, such as the ability to conduct abstract operations, will not occur until a child has reached

the appropriate developmental stage and that he envisions a student learning from cognitive

disequilibrium once he or she is developmentally capable of doing so. Perkinson continues by

citing Skinners theory of operant conditioning to posit that disequilibration can spur learning in

social, physical, and psychological contexts as well as cognitive ones (Perkinson, 1984, p. 89).

After using Piaget and Skinner to explore the learning process of the student, Perkinson

then considers the role of the teacher, which he shows to be to provide the appropriate conditions

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under which the student will learn from his or her mistakes in a safe and productive manner. He

first cites Maria Montessoris view that a teacher must cultivate a friendly attitude toward

error, and provide an environment in which students can safely take and learn from risks

(Perkinson, 1984, p. 95). However, Montessori supported a childs need to explore various

intellectual and practical endeavors, she was not as concerned with the psychological interactions

between students and teachers as was Carl Rogers. One of the founders of the Humanist

approach to psychology, Rogers held that it was important for teachers to be accepting and

respectful so that students would feel free to open up and share their prior knowledge, ideas, and

feelings. Furthermore, teachers that respond truthfully and congruently to students will establish

an atmosphere in which students will be more likely to respond to advice from a real person.

Finally, when teachers are empathic, putting understanding before evaluation and judgment, they

create a supportive environment for students (Perkinson, 1984, p. 154).

In conclusion, while the transmission model of education can offer some very effective

techniques for the dissemination of information, in my own teaching I strive to ensure that those

techniques are embedded in an approach that draws more heavily on the Socratic Method and on

the evolutionary model. In order to further explore how this approach would look in the

classroom, I now turn to the relationship between the student and the teacher.

The Student-Teacher Relationship

Explorer-Guide

I believe that the essence of education lies in the teacher-student relationship. Rather than

treating the teacher as subject that improves or adds value to the student as object, authentic education is

the interaction between two unique beings. While this interaction is rarely symmetrical since the teacher

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is guiding and supporting while the student is searching and developing, there are some instances, such

as when the teacher does not know the correct answer to the students question or when there is no

correct answer, where both the teacher and student are inquiring on similar terms. Learning is the

process by which the student integrates new knowledge into his or her own mind, making it a part of his

or her unique perspective on the world. This does not mean that ideas such as genetic mutation or

Communism mean whatever a person thinks they mean, for there is both a physical and a social reality

against which the notions of individuals are tested and often refuted. However, since the mind is an

incredibly complex entity and since most ideas are imperfect representations of reality, I would argue

that union of knowledge and knower is not exactly the same as either entity viewed separately and that

both the way in which we appropriate knowledge and the way in which we apply it makes both

ourselves and the knowledge unique.

In spite of a modest number of years teaching in private high schools, the educational

environment in which I learned the most about teaching and learning was working as a whitewater

kayak instructor at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. When I first started teaching at NOC I was a young

know-it-all who would get my students to line up side-by-side on the lake and so they could watch my

demonstration of the correct technique for the forward stroke, stern draw, and other maneuvers. I would

then tell them to practice on their own while I paddled around and critiqued their form one-by-one. We

would then go to the river to practice, but even in the current I clung stubbornly to this transmission

model, viewing the progression as a hierarchy of skills that must all be mastered before the students

were declared to be ready to paddle on their own. This approach was very satisfying to a significant

subset of my students, typically white-collar professional types who were probably verbal-linguistic

learners and who felt very comfortable in a school environment. However, eventually my theory of

kayak instruction started to break down in the face of persistent evidence that many other people in my

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group learned very little during my organized drills, but progressed much faster than my more obedient

students when let loose on the river. Often these were either younger students or adults that worked with

their hands. No doubt many of them were kinesthetic learners, but I believe that even more important

than their learning style was the fact that they knew something about learning to kayak that I did not,

namely that the best way to learn something new is to experiment. This did not always have pleasant

results for these intrepid explorers as they were more likely to flip over and end up swimming down the

river than their more compliant classmates. However, most of the time they also learned more quickly

and were much more likely to continue kayaking on their own once the course was over.

It was at this point that I started to understand the approach of a veteran kayak instructor who

had been teaching their since founding of the company. When students would ask him questions about

what would happen if they took this or that line down the river, he would answer them by asking,

Judging from what we can see from here, what do you think will happen? They would then make a

conjecture, based on their nascent and only semi-literate water reading skills, and assuming he knew that

they would befall no great danger on that route he would then say, Sounds like you have a plan. Try it

out and see how it works. Then at the bottom of the river, with the impassive expression of a Zen

master and regardless of whether the student was upright and dry or sputtering on the shore, he would

say, So tell me how that worked out for you. In spite of the fact that I had seen him teach for years, it

was only after overwhelming evidence undermined my top down method that I was ready to appropriate

a form of his approach in my own instructional practice.

This method, which I will call the explorer-guide model of education, integrates the dialogue of

the Socratic Method with the evolutionary methods emphasis on letting students choose their own paths

and learn from their mistakes, and I believe that it applies to an academic setting as well as the

instruction of outdoor activities.

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The explorer-guide approach recognizes that a students ability to learn is connected first and

foremost with his or her ability to use the knowledge and skills in context in order to find out what

works and what does not. By constantly testing and adapting his or her perspective to new

circumstances, the learner keeps knowledge alive. In the words of Alfred North Whitehead, keeping

knowledge alive, preventing it from becoming inert, is the central problem of education (Whitehead,

1982, 251).

People learn best when they have the intrinsic motivation to do so. According to Socrates,

knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind. Therefore, let early

education be a sort of amusement (Plato, 1982, 57). This belief is exemplified by teachers that use a

variety of activities including games and puzzles to engage their students. While almost all teachers fall

victim to their own frustration and unleash negative emotions on occasion, we all strive to find better

ways to address difficulties in the classroom. In spite of the fact that the following quote by John Locke

implies an adherence to the transmission model, it also contains sage advice for the teacher that resorts

to using the negative external motivations of fear or anger in an attempt to make his or her students

learn: It is as impossible to draw fair and regular characters on a trembling and weak mind as on a

shaking paper (Locke, 1982, p. 427). Some of us have learned the hard way that it can take many

weeks or months to reestablish trust with a student towards whom we have angrily projected our

disappointment.

Another important aspect of the explorer-guide relationship is to allow students follow

their interests, using their prior knowledge as a point of departure. Thus instead of envisioning the

students mind as a fixed container to which knowledge is added, one might consider the mind as a

network, that changes in both size and shape as new nodes are connected to the preexisting architecture.

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The opportunity to determine their course of study can be a great motivator for students because being

able to build upon prior knowledge gives them a sense of empowerment and because it is more difficult

them to complain when they reach points of difficulty if they have chosen their own path. In the words

of John Dewey:

[The educator] must constantly regard what is already won not as a fixed

possession but as an agency and instrumentality for opening new fields which make

new demands upon existing powers of observation and of intelligent use of memory.

Connectedness in growth must be his constant watchword (Dewey, 1982, p. 464).

One of the natural ramifications of allowing students to pursue projects of their own

interest is that students will tend to study fewer subject in greater depth. Of course, the nature

of a project usually implies some amount of cross-curricular work. For example one of my

former colleagues oversaw a project in which his students endeavored to calculate the height

of distant mountain peaks with the help of trigonometry, cartography, and the use of

scientific instruments. However, it is still unlikely that a student who follows his or her

natural interests will end up covering all of the subject areas as uniformly as a student

following a traditional curriculum. Thus one criticism of the explorer-guide approach is that

the explorer might lose himself or herself in the wilds of say, Freudian literary criticism or

the study of irrational numbers. While I would not wish those fates upon anyone, with

freedom comes risk. But any econometrician can attest to the fact that almost every activity

involves risk and so one must decide if the perceived risk is worth the potential return. While

some college admission counselors might claim that an exploratory curriculum involves the

terrible risk of not being admitted to the supposedly right university because one is missing

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this or that credit, this is insignificant in comparison to the reward in the form of real and

lasting intellectual development that comes from such a course of study. According to

Whitehead the traditional curriculum of subjects is the passive reception of disconnected

ideas (Whitehead, 1982, p. 248). A strong proponent of an exploratory course of study,

Whitehead claims that the mind is not an instrument to be sharpened, [but rather] a

perpetual activity, delicate, receptive, and responsive to stimulus. He continues by stating

that connecting to the here and now an interest in the subject matter, powers to be

strengthened in the student, and the possibilities of a mental life (Whitehead, 1982, p. 252).

This view, also held by Montessori and many other educators, is currently under assault by

those who seek to rationalize and standardize schools with the imposition of external exams

and top-down standards. However, as Socrates would remind us, just because most people

believe in something does not make it true (Plato, 2005, p. 30).

These three aspects of the explorer-guide relationship might be applied to second language

education in the following way. Creating an environment in which students are motivated intrinsically

could be done by designing a unit in which they explain how they envision using the target language and

then design a project that allows them to demonstrate use of the four language abilities around that

theme. The most obvious application of building on prior knowledge is Krashens Natural approach, in

which students work with comprehensible input that is just slightly above their current ability level in

the target language. They might benefit even more if the topics also connected to prior knowledge that

they have about the TLs culture. Finally, allowing students to pursue their own interests could be

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achieved by drawing from the approach of immersion programs. One could ask students to do work in

another content area in the target language1.

The Teacher as a Community Member

The explorer-guide model can work well in the context of learning knowledge and skills, helping

students achieve the educational aims of autonomy, critical thinking, problem solving, and but it is still

somewhat limited when it comes to the goal of socialization. Of course, students do learn many

socialization skills from their classmates and teachers, especially when the teacher approaches this

aspect of education in the manner prescribed by Rogers. However, taking the approach of the teacher as

a community member, neighbor, and citizen helps students develop a more complete picture of the other

people in their society. While the saying about it taking a village to raise a child may be trite, it is also

profound because it succinctly describes the fact that, in addition to their parents, children benefit from

having the support of other adults in the community. Any time a teacher takes the time to listen to a

student talk about their social frustrations he or she is assuming this role. The teacher can do this in other

ways as well including being involved in extra-curricular activities such as coaching or theater, leading

volunteer drives such as a Habitat-for-Humanity day, contacting parents to recommend resources for

their son or daughter, and, in some extreme cases, intervening when a child shows signs of neglect or

abuse. Another advantage teacher involvement in the community is that the teacher can get help from

students, whether it be to shovel mulch into a pickup truck or to be invited to dinner by the students

parents. While there are many opportunities for these types of deeper interactions at a day school, at a

boarding school, where teachers assume a role includes some elements of surrogate parenthood, there

are even more. No matter the educational context, a both teachers and students benefit when they find

1
The immersion approach is older than one may think. Milton held that the best way to learn Latin was to have
young Englishmen learn the arts of agriculture and husbandry by reading Cato and other classic Roman texts on the subject,
most of which are much simpler to read Latin works on more abstract topics (Milton, 1982, p. 222).

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ways to interact on a community level, where each can leave their respective scholastic roles in the

classroom and simply be good neighbors. Teachers should also be active members of the wider

educational community, which includes being active participants in the local, state, and national process

of shaping educational policy. Whether or not the current federal education policies tend to foster a

transmission approach to education is beyond the scope of this paper, but there is no doubt that teachers

have both the right and the responsibility to be more than simply obedient employees at the bottom of

the educational hierarchy. Furthermore, teachers should also strive to continue to be learners themselves,

not only in their own classrooms, but also in workshops and university courses where they may be

reminded of both the joy and anguish that comes with being a student.

In conclusion, the ideal school would be a place where the educational goals of autonomy,

socialization, and various aspects of cognition are met by creating an environment in which students are

allowed build their knowledge by exploring their academic interests in a natural progression in an

environment where they can safely learn from their mistakes. In this environment the teachers role

would that of guide and community member, supporting the students educational journeys and being

present and available as a responsible member of the community. Just as the reader of Platos dialogues

may never attain the perfect realization of the ideals towards which Socrates strove, I will certainly not

attain the perfect realization of this educational philosophy. But in the process of attempting to do so, I

hope to bring my teaching practice closer to it, learning from my mistakes and adapting my perspective

all along the journey.

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References

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Hare, W. (2002). Critical thinking as an aim of education. In R. Marples (Ed.), The aims of

education (pp. 85-93). London: Routledge.

Lipman, M. (1991). Thinking in education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Locke, J. (1982 version). Some thoughts concerning education. In K. E. Alrutz et al, (Ed.),

Education: ends and mean (pp. 405-441). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Milton, J. (1982 version). Of education. In K. E. Alrutz et al, (Ed.), Education: ends and

means (pp. 217-229). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Perkinson, H. J. (1984). Learning from our mistakes: A reinterpretation of twentieth-century

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