[lit-ideas] Re: Sounds right to me

  • From: "Phil Enns" <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2008 10:36:57 +0700

John McCreery wrote:

"How, then, might we select the tools, a.k.a., useful ideas that might
form the core of a 21st education for people who must cope with
information overload and all sorts of different people?"

I appreciate John's quote from Geertz and his comments.  The only
hesitation I have is over the above sentence.  I don't think we are in
a position to anticipate what will happen in the future nor should we
be selecting tools for people.*  Borrowing from Oakschott, we are at
sea and there are no stars to guide us, so the best we can do is
prepare ourselves for whatever may come.  At this point I would return
to John's comments.  From experience, we know that math, physical
sciences, accounting and human rights are very useful in many
different ways, and so we should make training in these disciplines

I suppose if I were to summarize my hesitation with John's comments,
it would be that I would not want to posit an outcome for education
beyond providing opportunities for students to receive training in
subjects that may be useful in the future.  On the other hand, I would
want to encourage students to dream and have a vision for a future
they can work towards using the tools we provide.  I just don't think
that we teachers are in the business of providing visions for people.

*There is a de facto selection that happens when schools decide what
programs to fund and what courses to offer.  In a liberal society, the
hope is that a wide variety of educational institutions will exist
allowing for people to choose.


Phil Enns
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
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