Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Philosophy of Education (and Life)

A besetting question of our culture is what makes a quality education, and how do we ensure that children receive one. The US continues to rank low on comparative statisics for competence in math, science, reading, etc. I'm no expert, and the solution to the education problem will likely be complex and multifaceted. However, as a person interested in the philosophy and psychology of education (and as an elementary education student) I've done some reading and thinking about what a thorough education looks like. Fundamentally, a good education should teach a student how to learn and think. If that skill is accomplished, then no subject will be too difficult. As I see it, as these thoughts develop, is that there are three ways of thinking, in three broad areas, with three applicable skills that together comprise the general goals of education. Additionally, mastering these skills should lead to lifelong students whose education does not end with college.

Three Ways of Thinking
Students need to learn to think mathematically, analyticially, and creatively.These three modes of thought are broadly applicable across subjects and I can't think of a subject which would not apply at least two of them.

Three Broad Areas
The three modes of thinking are applied in essentially what used to be called "The Three R's", reading, writing, and arithmetic. In a broader application of these three basic ideas, writing is expanding to communicating, so that it encompasses being able to express themselves clearly through many mediums: writing, speech, the web, etc. Arithmetic can be expanded to also encompass the sciences and their application in technology.

Three Basic Skills
Students must be able to employ these skills with diligence, collaboration, and curiousity. It the students learn to work with discipline, to work together, and are inspired with curiousity as they think mathematically, analytically, and creatively, applying their thinking skills to reading and discovering, writing and speaking, math and science, then they could certainly be said to have a thorough education.

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