August 22, 2005

Against formal education

As I have hinted in previous postings, I'm often struck by how difficult it is to "teach" (i.e. to stimulate learning) in an educational institutional setting. This thought is hardly original, and I was glad to see it raised also on AJ's site , and more cogently here: Against formal education:
I suppose that we have to concede that in a complex society, dedicated educational institutions are a necessity, although Illich (1970) argues cogently that they are not. Nevertheless, being taught something formally is never better than second-best. The mistake made by people who advocate ever more additions to the standard curriculum, such as 'citizenship', 'managing personal relations' and 'parentcraft' - and even some of the so-called 'key skills' - is their naive belief that these can be taught and learned out of context, at a time and place of the teachers' (or state's) choosing.
Lave and Wenger (1991) and more vividly Becker (1972) have demonstrated that to put learning into a formal educational context has a number of consequences, all of them negative.

James Atherton's website devoted to "Angles on learning and teaching at college, university and professional levels" is well worth investigating. Tip of the hat to Pedablogue for the link and reference to James Atherton.

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