This post is part of the Aspirations to Action series created as a follow-up to the Teaching What’s Important Symposium.
While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind,
But, more advanced, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1709
Alexander Pope may have been addressing an audience of literary critics, but his message is just as applicable to both faculty and students. To judge fairly and wisely – he wrote – be humble, follow nature, and study deeply. So what does it mean to study deeply? Continue reading Learning to learn
Social media tools have a lot of value in teaching and learning, and this has become even more apparent as I continue to use twitter in an introductory field biology class. In “St Lawrence Ecosystems“, students are doing natural history research projects and tweeting about their project. They are discovering the many ways that 140 characters can help create collaborative learning communities.
Continue reading Twitter as a collaborative learning tool in field biology
Earlier this fall I spent an afternoon in my farmers’ field digging up carrots. Yes, I am part of community supported agriculture (CSA) – this particular group is led by a couple whose farm is in the outskirts of Montreal. Every week, I enjoy deliveries of fresh, local, organic and DELICIOUS vegetables. However, this Sunday was different. Instead of bringing my canvas bags to the neighborhood drop-off point to pick up my veggies, I headed across the bridge to where the vegetables are actually grown. Continue reading My farmer, my teacher
By Jennie Ferris, Teaching and Learning Services.
He is among the key educational philosophers of the late 20th Century, and until recently, I confess that I had only read about John Dewey and his ideas, and had not actually read his work itself. When I finally read Experience and education, I was impressed by how the themes, questions and challenges that he addresses remain relevant today, 75 years after the book was first published.
Dewey is categorical when it comes to the question of experience: “It is not enough to insist upon the necessity of experience, nor even of activity in experience. Much depends upon the quality of the experience which is had” (pp. 27-8). He recommends an organic connection between education and personal experience, but cautions that education and experience cannot be directly equated to one another, as not all experiences are equally educative. After proposing a philosophy of education “of, by, and for experience” (p. 29), he articulates the situated nature of experience – how it relates to the past and impacts the future, and how the environment and its level of authenticity can be expected to impact the nature of the experience and its usefulness.
He advocates for the learners’ involvement in forming the purposes that direct their activities in the learning process, and challenges instructors to “arous[e] in the learner an active quest for information and for production of new ideas” (p. 79). Educators are encouraged to select issues “within the range of existing experience that have the promise and potentiality of presenting new problems which by stimulating new ways of observation and judgment will expand the area of further experience” for students (p. 75). This is consistent with Vygotsky’s idea of the zone of proximal development – a concept introduced just a couple of years before Dewey wrote this book. Dewey goes on to note the importance of building in time for genuine reflection after these experiences.
Finally, I was struck by the simple elegance of one of his concluding thoughts: “The educator should view teaching and learning as a continuous process of reconstruction of experience” (p. 87).
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. Toronto: Collier-MacMillan.