Sunday, May 21, 2017

What should we learn? What should we know?

Yesterday's blog title included the words "body and mind".  I had been planning to write some about the 'wisdom of the body and the mind', a subject I have heard of but don't know much about.  It is possible that the process of maturing naturally opens our bodies and our minds to certain types of wisdom, such as more patience with ourselves and others.  I suppose one can think of aging and maturation as very similar things.

The philosophy group asked me to prepare a theme for a discussion.  I wrote up this page

As it says, about the time I began thinking about a good theme, a friend mentioned starting an online high school.  I imagine that if you looked at all the approaches currently being used for a curriculum, you would see a wide variety.  At the same time, it seems to me that we have little evidence of what pays off as content in the K-12 years of school.  Many educators have proposed projects of both individual and group goals that may allow students to gain multiple kinds of knowledge and skills while working.  The book "Summerhill" describes this sort of learning approach well as does the movie "A Town Torn Apart."

We can all remember learning subjects or skills that we know were difficult and demanding to learn but have not been of conscious use since.  The 1938 book "The Saber Tooth Curriculum" depicts detailed lessons in saber tooth tiger hunting despite the fact the cats are extinct.

One answer is "know everything", keep learning all your life.  Another is "Google it and go to the library for what you can't find".  The book "Too Big to Know" is about the current internet and the knowledge that is strewn all over it.  There is too much to know.

An old argument, more than a century, continues between those who feel careful training for a particular job is the answer while the other side maintains that a "liberal" education in the basics, with maybe a major and minor thrown it will be more helpful, especially as particular jobs get out of date and/or taken by robots.

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