Philosophy of Education

The question posed was “are all classrooms unique?”

Individuals act tow2ards “things” based on the actions of others?/

The question posed was “are all classrooms unique?” They are but not every aspect of a classroom is unique.

The classroom is a microcosm of the social world. So what is unique? The individual students are unique. They have agency and a unique psycho-biography.

On the other hand individual students also have dispositions conditioned by society. Individual agents think and act like each other because we act towards things based upon how we see others act. This is a fundamental principle of the symbolic interactionism of Herbert Blumer and George Herbert Mead.

Bourdieu went one further and described the “habitus”, which is essentially dispositions created by the historical actions of others and our place in society.

Knowledge also exists external to the knowing of the individual.  As does language. A church is a church. We all know the meaning of “church”. Durkheim wrote about social facts. Later, much later Margaret Archer and the critical realists have written extensively about knowledge that is socially real.

Actually I’m just name dropping and some may disagree on the essential nature of theories name dropped but I’m doing so to make a point. I want to pose another question. Is it possible to answer the question, or even consider the issue,  “are all classrooms unique?”, without reference to social theory?

Ed Hirsch argued that:

From this he argues that domain knowledge is important because it gives meaning to otherwise confusing sentences. He gives the example of someone hearing Einstein lecture and who came out saying: ‘Well I understood all the words, I just didn’t understand what they meant.’ He goes on to argue that irony, metaphor and other literary devices need background information in order to make sense of them. The Core Knowledge Curriculum was the result of this thinking about the essential content of a sensible curriculum.

I would argue that actually all that you need to engage with a domain, when you do not have any domain knowledge, is an audience that does not have any domain knowledge either. Politicians can , if they wish, try to pursue social questions from the perspective of cognitive psychology, RCT’s, meta math or whatever.  They can even fund toolkits that offer the view that arts participation is 2 months better better than aspiration interventions. They can even adopt a Pythonesque silly walk and talk to dead parrots.

The job, I suppose, of teacher bloggers is to contradict those views when they arise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s