The knowledge of the ancients was perfect. How perfect? I will tell you. At first they did not yet know that there were things. This is the most perfect knowledge; nothing can be added. Next they knew things but did not yet make distinctions between them. Next they made distinctions between them but did not yet pass judgements upon them. When judgement was passed, Tao was destroyed. With the destruction of Tao, individual preferences come into being.
When we think about learning, we typically focus on getting information into students’ heads. What if, instead, we focus on getting information out of students’ heads?
In summary, a good teacher does the following: - never tells a student anything that the teacher thinks is true - never allows himself to be the ultimate judge of his own students' success - teacher practice first, theory second (if he must teach theory at all) - does not come up with lists of knowledge that every student must know - doesn't teach anything unless he can easily explain the use of learning it - assigns no homework, unless that homework is to produce something - groups students according to their interests and abilities, not their ages - ensures that any reward to a student is intrinsic - teaches students things they may actually need to know after they leave school - helps students come up with their own explanations when they have made a mistake - never assumes that a student is listening to what he is saying - never assumes that students will do what he asks them to do if what he asked does not relate to a goal they truly hold - never allows pleasing the teacher to be the goal of the student - understands that students won't do what he tells them if they don't understand what is being asked of them - earns the respect of students by demonstrating abilities - motivate students to do better, and does not help them to do better - understands that his job is to get students to do something - understands that experience, not teachers, changes belief systems - confuses students - does not expect credit for good teaching
I'm not suggesting that teachers never tell the truth, only that it isn't necessary to do it all the time. Since coming to one's own conclusions is mostly how we learn, the real job of a teacher is to force students to come to sensible conclusions by confronting what they already believe with stuff that is antithetical to those beliefs. A confused person has only 2 choices. Admit he is confused and doesn't care, or resolve the confusion. Resolving the confusion invloves thinking. Teachers can encourage thinking by making sure students have something confusing to think about.
There are endless books about what every third grader must know that use the idea that factual knowledge is the basis of the ability to read as their justification. Unfortunately, the writers of these tracts have misunderstood the cognitive science behind those statements. It is difficult to read things when you don't understand what they are about, but it does not follow from that thatthe solution is to ram that knowledge down kids' throats and then have them read. It is much more clever to have them read about what they know and to gradually increase their knowledge through stories that cause them to have to learn more in order to make the stories understandable to them.
Certain things need to be done again and again in life, but those things can be learned only in context, not as an abstraction. Different contexts must be provided in order to motivate students and to provide real world skills that will be remembered, not because they were studied and tested but because they were practicied again and again.
The purpose of education should ultimately be the advancement of the species. And for this to actually happen, the world needs the kind of education by means of which character is formed, strength of the mind is increased and the human intellect is expanded beyond its own limits.
Indoctrination is not just demeaning to the human conscience, it is lethal for the flourishing psychology of the hungry, young mind.