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Some Tentative Responses

Posted By: Jeff McCullers on August 15, 2002
Ross Mitchell has provided some fine and helpful questions, and I'd like to propose some tentative responses:

Question 1: "Why should I or anyone else feel inclined to open up my self to criticism?"

The context of this question is that it isn't necessarily so that people are interested in examining their convictions, and that some students in foundations courses are restrained by a fear of criticism. I certainly agree on both counts, but I would suggest that it a basic responsibility of any classroom teacher or any university professor to establish a safe place for the exchange of ideas. This hold true, in my estimation, regardless of the topic: a philosophy of education student should feel no more or less free to examine important issues than a student of any other subject, be it evolution or grammar.

To answer the question, then, I would say that people should feel inclined to open themselves to criticism whenever they are seeking knowledge about themselves or their practice--and whenever a safe forum has been established for that purpose.

Question 2: "Is there enough leisure to reflect as deeply as you would like students to do?"

Yes, I honestly think there is, but I'd like to point that I am just as concerned about practicing educators as I am about preservice educators. It seems to me that every profession and every art is deliberately introspective and reflective: why not teaching?

(I'd also enjoy quibbling a bit about whether or not reflective practice is a leisure activity, but that would probably make for a better dinnertime debate than a forum post.)

Question 3: "Is there reason for students to believe that understanding the foundations of education is liberating rather than alienating?"

Yes, I think there is ample reason for this belief, although I would point out that understanding the foundations of education (in the broadest, best sense of that term) is not necessarily the same thing as having survived EDU 101 with a passing grade.

Question 4: "It is reasonable to demand reflection without providing the basis for enactment?"

Yes, it is more than reasonable to ask that professionals engage in reflective practice. If there no means available to act on that reflection, then it is necessary to also reflect on those obstacles to enactment. This, I think, is the process that produces our bravest reformers.

I thank Ross Mitchell for the change to clarify, and I look forward to other contributions to this discussion.

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 The Primacy Paradox by Jeff McCullers on April 26, 2002
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