Wednesday, November 15, 2006

John Dewey

There are many features of Dewey's ideas that are quite interesting... First of all, the fact that what he most expected from schools was to form citizens. When I was at school it was usual to see children looking down on other students because they were "different". I remember one of my teachers used to encourage us to listen to each other and respect our differences (e.g. we used to have problems in the classroom regarding the clothes we wore...). I would like to apply this idea of "no discrimation" starting in the classroom, so that my students can apply them in their lives both inside and out of school. I would really like to foster communication among my students to break the differences between them.
However, I believe that Dewey's idea that "the fewer hours children spend at school, the better (just enough to acquire just the minimum concepts)" is quite an exaggeration. I believe that the bases of education are both values and knowledge... so if we leave knowledge out of school... what do we want it for?

Contributed by Alejandra de Antoni

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Rousseau on Education

-One of Rousseau's ideas that influences school today is the thought that at the Pre-adolescence stage (12-15) the child should not know about those ideas that are beyond his grasp. Nowadays, when a student makes a question about sth. that is not in the syllabus, many teachers say 'This is a topic for next year,' or 'You cannot understand this now,' and go onto the topic of the day. I don't think this is because the teacher is lazy or not motivated enough to encourage students' curiosity. Perhaps many teachers don't believe in much 'going off track' because they feel the topic is too complex for the students.
-One idea I would like to consider when teaching is that teachers must take into account sex differences (though at all stages, not only at 20-25). With this I don't mean that we should favoured boys or girls, or foster stereotypes. We should pay attention to these differences and encourage students to respect and tolerate each other.
-I also like the idea of 'life as a playground.' I would like to provide an environment in which my students could experience by themselves and make sense of the environment in their own way, not always relying on the teacher. A teacher should cater for children's natural curiosity, thus allowing opportunities for learning.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Rousseau´s ideas...Have they been worth it?I think that school has taken a few of Rousseau’s ideas and they have been ADJUSTED into what it is supposed to be education. The most important thing, I guess, is the aim that Rousseau had for education and in some way it has been taken into account: to learn how to live. I know that not in every school this is considered, but in my experience or perhaps modern schools, this is a very important topic. All the subjects that are compulsory in education, have a minimum of morality, that is that will help you to succeed in life. Also, not any kind of living but a healthy, good one, by managing our own social instincs and avoiding individualism.
I supposed that what I would like to try in my own lessons, is the idea of being apart from the ordinary life and trying to get to know another one. I don´t mean studying in the countryside (as Rousseau did with Emile), but I am in favour of trying new things and encouraging my students to learn good habits, physical and intellectual in other environment rather than the one they already know.

John Dewey

  • While analyzing John Dewey's ideas, I was able to find a close relationship with the type of education I had at my secondary school, where the purpose was "Not Multa Sed Multum", which means "not many different things, buteach one in the deep". Moreover, a clear trend nowadays is to find teachersthat devote their classes to favouring the personal experience of the learner and their own creations.

  • Nevertheless, at the same time, the teacher's function as a "midwife" (a guide through the process of constructing knowledge) is sometimes replaced by the "explainer", not even thought of by Dewey. I would like to particularly stress Dewey's concern about the development of critical, socially engaged intelligence and respect for diversity.

  • As a teacher-to-be, I believe that it is really important to integrate social experience with educational ones, considering Dewey's ideas about socialization, democratization and diversity. It is also important to take into account the idea of emancipating learners and advocating the enlargement of experience, because learners are human beings that are part of a society and they must learn how to manage their experiences.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Role of Women in Education

I would like to start with a brief summary about Manuel Belgrano's ideas on education in general and women's education in particular. He had studied Law in Spain and there, he became familiiar with the new theories on education.
These theories had been developed by Frederick Froebel and Johann Pestalozzi, they encouraged the creation of an educational environment that involved practical work and the direct use of materials. These thinkers favoured spontaneous work and self-activity. They said that children should not be given ready-made answers but should arrive at answers themselves. The method was to proceed from the easier to the more difficult (observation-consciousness-speech-measuring-drawing-writing-numbers). The theories favoured the observation of nature in contrast with the popular belief at that moment.
Belgrano, convinced of these ideas, wanted to put them into practice in our country, but he found a great opposition among people in Government. He was in favour of free schools as a means to eradicate ignorance and misery, he wanted to create agricultural schools to teach country people how to better work the soil.
Belgrano was among the first who gave importance to women's education thinking in the role women had at home teaching children. He said that "an ignorant woman raise unable, retarded citizens". He wanted to change the educational system because, he thought, it destroyed children's imagination. He wanted education to be compulsory, with new methodology applied. He also stated that the world was full of books with important and interesting discoveries about agriculture and life in general, but those books did not reach the country people.
Belgrano had the ideas but he did not have the power or the money to make them possible. Around fifty year later, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, who was in favour of the same ideas, and who had the power to put them into practice when he was President, took over the enterprise.
While he was President, the first population census was done and the result was that three quarters of the people was illiterate. To solve this problem he decided to create schools, libraries and to bring trained teachers from America, to teach children applying the new methodologies.
Before being President, he had been Consul in America, and there he had met Horace Mann, a well-known teacher who applied new methodologies, but it was his wife Mary the one who coordinated the import of teachers to our country. Mary recruited sixty-seven trained teachers who came here and impelled the transformation of the country into one of the countries with less illiteracy. This group of teachers were called the "Odisea laica". Lay because Sarmiento was not in favour of mixing religion with education.
Sarmiento also said that it should be taken into account the education of women, because they "destroy what teachers teach at school", meaning that women should work hand in hand with teachers, and to do so, they should be educated as well.
During Sarmiento's government, the Escuela Normal de Paranà was founded and the teachers taught there to form apt teachers for kindergarten and primary school. Mr George Sterns was in charge of the school and Mrs Sara Chamberlain Ecclestone was in charge of the teachers. In this way, "Normalism" began in our country.
The group of teachers of the Odisea Laica was formed, among others, by Sara Chamberlain Ecclestone, Frances Armstrong, who after being at Paranà, went to Còrdoba and founded the Escuela Normal and later the Escuela Normal Mixta in San Nicolàs de los Arroyos, Theodora Gay, Serena Wood, Elizabeth Gorman, Mary O. Graham, Elizabeth Peabody, Frances Hall and Jemie Howard.
Apart from this group of American teachers, Sarmiento trusted in one special woman, Juana Manso. She was a writer and a teacher who believed in the new theories. Sarmiento named her Head of the Escuela Primaria N· 1, the first mixed school in our country. She implemented the new methodology there, which was very much resisted by those who were opposed to her. She cancelled physical punishment and introduced English as a subject of study. She insisted on popular education and civil emancipation of women.
After the exposition of these data, I would like to state that, although we call Sarmiento the Father of Our Education, he carried out the ideas that somebody else, Belgrano, had thought of before. Sarmiento had the opportunity, the power and the money to do that, but this ideas were not originally his.
As regards the similarities between both men, I would state that both thought about the role of women. They said that women should be educated because they are children's first teachers and also as a way of giving them the possibility of emancipation.
In respect to the role of women in education, I would like to state that without that first step, the coming of American teachers, education based on a systematised methodology would have been impossible.
text provided by Irene Da Rold.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator, who was born in 1921 in a city called Recife. Due to the Great Depression the country was divided into high and low classes, and as a consequence his parents suffered from severe financial problems that led him to know hunger and poverty at a young age. So, it was in his childhood that he determined to dedicate his life to the struggle against hunger. In 1944, he married Elza Oliveira who was an elementary school teacher. Consequently, his interests in theories of education began to grow and as a result, he did more extensive reading in education, philosophy and sociology of education. Freire began to work as the Director of the Department of Education in Brazil, and his experiences during those years brought him into adult education.
His theories of education gave him international fame as well as political persecution in his own country to the extent that he was imprisoned and subsequently exiled to Chile and the United States. His international recognition was the result of several experiments of literacy training. One of them was called “Bare feet can also learn to read” in which he taught illiterate workers to read and write in 45 days.
In 1965, due to the violent situation in The USA and Southern Asia among other places, Freire found that repression and exclusion of the powerless were a global phenomenon. Therefore, violence became a great concern in his writings leading him to write his most famous work called “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” In this book, he emphasised the idea of learning as an act of culture and freedom, and he argued that through learning and conscientization people became aware of the oppression, so as to liberate themselves from that oppressive reality.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

José Manuel Estrada

He was born in Buenos Aires on 13th July, 1842. He was a historian, a journalist as well as a publicist. He was one of the most intellectual people in the second half of the XIX century.
When he was young, his parents died, and his grandmother Carmen de Liniers got in charge of his education. His formal education took place in San Francisco school, where he learned philosophy, theology, religion and humanities. In 1815, when he finished primary school, he received an award in a history contest in the Liceo Literario as he had done a very good work related to the discovery of America. It was at this time that he started his career as a journalist. In 1865, Estrada presented his first purely historic work. A year later, he initiated in the teaching profession in the "Escuela Normal". By this time, Sarmiento, who was in power, named Estrada Secretary of Foreign Affairs and he appointed him to teach Civic Instruction in the National School, where he had already taught philosophy.
In 1869, Estrada was named Chief of the General Department of Schools. Two years later, he initiated his career as a politician. Some time later, he was elected representative for Buenos Aires.
In 1874, he was in charge of the Direction of Escuelas Normales and Decanato of the Philosophy and Literature School of the University of Buenos Aires.
In 1880, when Julio A. Roca was in power for the first time, there were strong anti-Catholic ideas. Estrada, being a devoted Catholic started an advertising fight in favour of Catholicism. There were topics being greatly discussed, such as the exclusion of Catholic education from schools, the inclusion of civil marriage and other things related to religious matters.
In 1890, while he was in a lecture in Buenos Aires, he suffered a decompensation that obliged him to retire from public life.
On September 17th, 1894, his illness defeated him and he died in the capital city of Paraguay.

Text provided by Ana Paula Farias

Juana Manso

"Vosotros, ricos ¿por què no las educais ilustradas, en vez de criarlas para el goce brutal? Y vosotros, pobres ¿por què les cerrais torpemente la vereda de la industria y el trabajo, y la colocais entre la alternativa de la prostituciòn y la miseria?"

This is a quote from one of the most important educators in Argentina: Juana Manso.
She lived in the 19th century and fought for the rights of women and for the improvement of the educational system, within a democratic frame.
If you want to learn more about her life and her contribution to our education system, just click here.