作者:[美] 彼得·格雷


Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education
(Section 5)

(18)Progressive educators often cite Rousseau as an early proponent of their views. Rousseau’s sole work on education was his book émile, first published in 1760, which is a fictional account of the education of a single boy. If this book has any real-world application at all it would be to the education of a prince. émile’s teacher is a tutor, whose sole job, sole mission in life, is the education of this one boy, a teacher-student ratio of one to one. The tutor, by Rousseau’s description, is a sort of superhero. He is not only extraordinarily knowledgeable in all subjects, but he understands émile inside and out, more so than it is ever possible (I would say) for any actual human being to understand another human being. He knows all of the boy’s desires, at any given time, and he knows exactly what stimuli to provide at any time to maximize the educational benefits that will accrue from the boy’s acting on those desires. Thus, the tutor creates an environment in which émile is always doing just what he wants to do, yet is learning precisely the lessons that the tutor has masterfully laid out for him.

(19)I think if more educators actually read émile, rather than just referred to it, they would recognize the basic flaw in progressive educational theory. It is way too demanding of teachers to be practical on any sort of mass scale, and it makes unrealistic assumptions about the predictability and visibility of human desires and motives. [For more on my analysis of émile, see here.] At best, on a mass scale, progressive education can simply help to modulate the harshness of traditional methods and add a bit of self-direction and creativity to students’ lives in school.

(20)In contrast to progressive education, Self-Directed Education is inexpensive and efficient. The Sudbury Valley School, for example, which is approaching its 50th anniversary, operates on a per student budget less than half that of the local public schools (for more on this school, see here and here). A large ratio of adults to students is not needed, because most student learning does not come from interaction with adults. In this age-mixed setting, younger students are continuously learning from older ones, and children of all ages practice essential skills and try out ideas in their play, exploration, conversations, and pursuits of whatever interests they develop. They also, on their own initiative, use books and, in today’s world, Internet resources to acquire the knowledge they are seeking at any given time.

(21)The usual criticism of Self-Directed Education is that it can’t work, or can work only for certain, highly self-motivated people. In fact, progressive educators are often quick to draw a distinction between their view of education and that of Self-Directed Education, because they don’t want their view to be confused with ideas that they consider to be “romantic” or “crazy” and unworkable. For example, I’m pretty sure that Alfie Kohn had Self-Directed Education in mind when he wrote (here again): “In this cartoon version of the tradition, kids are free to do anything they please, the curriculum can consist of whatever is fun (and nothing that isn’t fun). Learning is thought to happen automatically while the teachers just stand by, observing and beaming. I lack the space here to offer examples of this sort of misrepresentation — or a full account of why it’s so profoundly wrong — but trust me: People really do sneer at the idea of progressive education based on an image that has little to do with progressive education.”

One thought on “Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education (5)”

  1. Tuesday, 03 November 2020 11:09








    (21)通常对自我指导教育的批评是不起作用的,或者只能对肯定的、高度自我激励的人起作用。事实上,进步的教育者往往很快就把他们的教育观点和自我指导教育的观点区分开来,因为他们不希望自己的观点与他们认为是“浪漫的”或“疯狂的”、行不通的观点相混淆。举个例子,我很肯定Alfie Kohn在写下(此处再次提及)“在这个传统的卡通版本中,孩子们可以自由地做他们喜欢做的任何事,课程可以包含任何有趣的内容(没有任何不有趣的内容)。”学习被认为是自动发生的,而老师只是站在一旁,观察和微笑。我没有空来提供这种歪曲的例子——或一个完整的证据证明为什么它是如此大错特错,但相信我:人们真的会嘲笑这种印象基于不为积极教育做什么的想法。






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