Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thought for the Day



More from David Orr:

The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person. Subject matter is simply the tool. Much as one would use a hammer and chisel to carve a block of marble, one uses ideas and knowledge to forge one’s own personhood. For the most part we labor under a confusion of ends and means, thinking that the goal of education is to stuff all kinds of facts, techniques, methods, and information into the student’s mind, regardless of how and with what effect it will be used. The Greeks knew better.

... I would like to propose that knowledge carries with it the responsibility to see that it is well used in the world. The results of a great deal of contemporary research bear resemblance to those foreshadowed by Mary Shelley: monsters of technology and its byproducts for which no one takes responsibility or is even expected to take responsibility. Whose responsibility is Love Canal? Chernobyl? Ozone depletion? The Valdez oil spill? Each of these tragedies were possible because of knowledge created for which no one was ultimately responsible. This may finally come to be seen for what I think it is: a problem of scale. Knowledge of how to do vast and risky things has far outrun our ability to use it responsibly. Some of it cannot be used responsibly, which is to say safely and to consistently good purposes.

...we cannot say that we know something until we understand the effects of this knowledge on real people and their communities.

from What is Education For?

One last quote:
It makes far better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to attempt to reshape the planet to fit our infinite wants.

1 comment:

Linda at teacherdance said...

We talk quite a bit with students about wants and needs, Tabatha. Because many of our students are privileged, we believe they need to consider how to use the power that privilege gives them. You've given some good words to consider in this post, for our future. I was struck especially by "...we cannot say that we know something until we understand the effects of this knowledge on real people and their communities." Thank you