There is no shortage of literature on education.  Particularly at a school that espouses “learn by doing” we would be at a loss to not address American philosopher John Dewey.  “Learn by doing” means far more than habitual activity, but in the development of novel solutions, repositions our inherited mythologies that falsely emphasize thinking over doing.  As noted in Larry Hickman’s John Dewey’s Pragmatic Technology (1990), whereas Aristotle created a hierarchy of ways of knowing with theory at the top, practice in the middle, and production at the bottom,

“Dewey inverted this hierarchy, suggesting that the interpenetration of theory (or ideas about things to be done) with practice (or the doing of things) is made meaningful only when novel tools and solutions are produced.”

This same thinking applies to his thinking on education as expressed in Democracy and Education (1916):

“Diversity of stimulation means novelty, and novelty means challenge to thought.”

Dewey made a direct connection between embodied experience and the structure of thinking.  For example, in his book How We Think (1909), he makes this connection as an analogy:

 “A bungler can make a box, but the joints will not fit exactly, the edges will not be even. A skilled person will do the work in a way that does not waste time or material, and the result is firm and neat. So it is with thinking.”

And so it is, I hope, with your blog posts.

While Dewey was known as a “pragmatist” philosopher, Ivan Illich was a radical.  Dewey’s educational philosophy can be seen as a critique of schooling as a result of the industrial revolution, while Illich’s vision of “learning webs” in 1970 seems to anticipate the open-source information network as a result of the internet.

The intent of these readings is to challenge your thinking on the role of education in society – its cultural value.  As Dewey notes,

“The conception of education as a social process and function has no definite meaning until we define the kind of society we have in mind.”

From the groups assigned today, each group is to read the following readings, and then write a brief summary highlighting the essential points for the benefit of the rest of the studio.  The intent is to be short and concise, making connections between different passages, as I have tried to exemplify above.  Can you identify with this, or does it sit uneasy with you?  How might it effect the institution of schools including their spatial arrangement?

For Wednesday, everyone to read:

Third Teacher excerpts including: Foreword by David Orr, and Interviews with Sir Ken Robinson and James Dyson.

Readings are provided as a PDF, or can be accessed on-line through links provided below.


Group 1: John Dewey, Democracy and Education,  Ch 1: Education as a Necessity of Life (SKIM) with focus on Ch 7: The Democratic Conception in Education.

Group 2: John Dewey, Democracy and Education, Ch 1: Education as a Necessity of Life (SKIM) with focus on Ch 11: Experience and Thinking.

Group 3: John Dewey, Democracy and Education, Ch 1: Education as a Necessity of Life (SKIM) with focus on Ch 12: Thinking in Education.

Group 4: Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society, Ch1 : Why we must disestablish school (SKIM) with focus on Ch 6: Learning Webs.

Your summary Post should focus on your group reading, but you are free to incorporate other references.