“If you had at least a half an hour with the education minister of your country what would you talk to him about”?

 

Background

This site was designed to start a conversation about good education.

It intends to trigger thinking and sharing.  

The site includes three main venues:

A)    Theories of Good Education – Here the site will be sharing articles and posts about education, presenting thoughts and ideas in some form of analysis. Usally from the perspective of many disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, organizational theory, curriculum and psychology. Some of the texts are original and some gathered from the internet, some are in a written form and some in the form of video lectures from YouTube, TED and the like. This is the main section of this site.  

B)    Best of the Web - Here the site offers a collection of isolated items from the web without adding much analysis. It is an array of items that have  educational value and that are usally hidden in the infinity of the web and are therefore “lost”. This is a storage of websites, paintings, music, maps, books, biographies, etc, that can be used by teachers, lectures and students, and can later also be incorporated into posts or analysis in the first section of this site.  

C)    Events – Includes news of the education world. here you will be able to find news about conferences, events, exhibitions, etc. 

Please enjoy what others have suggested – analysis, items or events – and please offer your own. You are welcomed to turn this site into a conversation. A conversation about good education. You can comment, write an original text or suggest an event that is important to education.

You can also mail me at whillel@gmail.com.

You can RSS to register to receive notifications of new posts and items, and follow what is new at facebook page “Thinking About Good Education”.

You can now go back to home page and start your voyage of this site. 

 

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The following paragraphs are not necessary for enjoying this site and you might choose to skip them. I will elaborate why I felt the need for this site, what were the assumptions that determine its character and some of my thoughts about having this conversation about good education done as a website.

 

My need for conversation

This site grew from my personal need to talk about good education with others.

Since I was a young adult I was troubled by a feeling the my own education was not sufficient. Not even remotely “enough”. In a slow maturation of my critical capabilities I started a ”socioanalysis” of myself and gradually was able to see how my social position(s) predetermined my educational horizon. A young man from a particular American -Jewish – liberal background living in Jerusalem I realized that my education was constrained, formed, restricted. I was limited to the chance of my circumstances, the teachers that happened to cross my path, the leaders that happened to shape my schools and education system, those who wrote the programs I cherished as almost divine truths. The segment of society my parents belong to, my ethnic background, my nationality, my gender, my social-economic fortunes closed me into a certain loop of knowledge and values. I assume all these have given me some advantages. But these chance occurrences that have effected my education were not enough to provide me with what I assumed existed out there – the best education available to mankind. And I grew curious. What am I missing?

I have since embarked on a voyage of learning and teaching, always seeking the way others – from different backgrounds and sometimes very different backgrounds – conceive good education. That is why I can’t have this conversation with myself alone. I need others. This web site is a medium intended to engage in a deep conversation about what I believe to be a crucial question for those who are seeking to better their lives and the life of their loved ones. Whar is a good education and how to make it happen? How to get it?

 

Assumptions  

This site has been created on four assumptions:

  • Education is important – crucial – for a good life. It is worthwhile and beneficial to study what is education, what affects education and implement our learning to make education better. In fact, I believe it is one of the most important questions a man or a woman should be thinking about for themselves and for their loved ones. In essence, we are our education. We are the education we received and the educational possibilities open for us. Have we received a good education is synonymous to the inquiry of a good life and how to achieve it. Have I – you – received a good education? What can be done about it? How to go about making good education?

 

 

  • Education is complex – the factors affecting education are many and educational situations can be analyzed from many perspectives. This means that to be able to treat educational problems well you need to slowly become aware of other factors that are in play than the ones that were apparent on first glance. For this one needs to become aware how education at homes, kindergartens, playgrounds, youth movements, schools, etc. are shaped by philosophical assumptions but also by sociological forces, by organizational structures, by curriculum planning, by psychological patterns and more. A person who is interested in only one perspective will not think out the complexity and will see just part of the whole picture.  His or her ability to practice good education is reduced. And we are not here for intellectual curiosity, it is not the pleasure of conversation per se we seek, but an authentic drive to improve our life and make education better. I therefore urge you to leave the specialized stance and assume the multidisciplinary approach that will allow us in the complexity of causes and effects within real life education. Professionals of sub disciplines within the field of education might find the discussion lacking. However, this is not a site about philosophy of education or sociology of education or curriculum per se; it is about the phenomenon of education as a whole. Please don’t grunt about what is missing, add your perspective and enhance our comprehension of educaton with your additions.

 

  • Education as a praxis – this means in essence that education is something we do, not an just an abstract field of knowledge. Doing education comes before theory in the sense that a very good educator acts creatively, creates possibilities where others have not seen them – and then perhaps be followed by theoreticians who put his or her actions into words and ideas. People might do good education well before they can explain what it is exactly they did that went so well. When an educator goes into a classroom he enters a zone that is effected by many and complex forces that can predetermine the outcomes  – but as a human being he can overcome these forces and create something new to his satisfaction. Yet, we should still inform educators of theories and data as much as we can, to help out.

 

  • The place of theory – Nothing can replace the actual experience that an educator gathers on the field – within a particular class within a particular school. Educator training should have much of it structured with episodes of practice and episodes of reflection on that practice. But this experience should always be supplemented by theory of the forces that effect education at any class or any school. The need of the educator in the field for his particular perspective and also the general “theory” perspective means that educators in the field need the researchers in the academic institutions. And the researchers need the educators in the field. Understanding education in general and doing education in particular go hand by hand together.  It is a union.

 

Having a conversation online – What internet does to conversation?

Nothing can replace the face to face conversation in which two or more people help each other think out difficult theoretical ideas about education. But the internet has introduced a new way of conversing.

1) Audience. The most striking advancement of Internet is its ability to reach wider and more diversified audiences, quickly and at hardly any cost. This means that many more people can join the conversation than ever before in recorded history. Internet technology, in essence, is about sharing with anybody that is “out there” in the speed of light. This text, which I am writing now, can be read five minutes later at the cities of Tokyo, Katmandu, Instabul and New York and evoke responses from unprecedented many. This is not just a quantitative difference. It is qualitative since more diversity means bringing into the conversation more diverse ideas. Ten days after this site was airborne it was surfed in 18 cities around the Globe such as Sydny, Montreal and Hannover.  

This change regarding audience or participants that the internet enables is wonderfully illustrated in the following YouTube video. Take a few minutes to understand what you are seeing here.

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What Eric Whitacre has shown here is the amazing ability of the internet to infinitely increase the participation of people in a common project – if they just plug-in. This concert  involves hundreds and potentially thousands of participants – from many countries and localities, different languages and cultures. Granted – its not like you are there physically – but it is close and it allows more and more to join in.

 

2) Enhancing a reflective conversation with oneself.

 

Handling a website allows you not only to improve your conversation with others but with yourself as well. It is a “room of your own” where you can record your thoughts and return to gather your thoughts whenever you need to do so. Unlike a paper diary, it is a space that holds infinite amount of information, easly retreable and open to others to read.

I I urge you to take the previous concert metaphor even further. Watch the following YouTube

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Again, think for a while what you have just saw. The internet allows this young man to sing with himself as never before. Adding more and more of his own voices to the same music clip creating something new and wonderful.

 

3) Diverse forms of content

Internet has done something else, quite remarkable, to conversation. It throws into the discussion ideas in multiple forms, verbal and non verbal such as video, audio, sites, books, software., networks etc. This conversation is richer than ever before. One can now hold a record of (almost) his entire intellectual world in one place, linked, retrievable and ready to be presented.

So with the internet – one can share his entire sorting of thoughts, sound, documents and images with basically any person who is connected to the web. This makes publication easy, quick, and smart. It also allows a whole new level of conversation to take place – an “I-conversation”.  Now that takes the book or the classroom discussions one step foward – won’t you agree?