Thursday, December 10, 2009

Humility in adult education

In thinking further about a workshop on reflective teaching and development education, I have been examining a disquiet with the idea of education for change. In doing this I am helped by my subject matter (mathematics) as it is inherently less value laden that such subjects as history , political philosophy or religion.

My considered position is that I teach mathematics for what ever my students wish to use it for. They have made the decision to learn and unless I have specifically agreed a curriculum of change with them, then its is arrogant and presumptious of me to assume that they need re-education in the areas of social justice or world peace.

I'm not saying that I ignore such issues, or that I dont introduce them to my classes, on the contrary I do, but what I am saying is that in using such material I am not assuming that my students are ignorant of it or need to adapt my point of view on the issues raised. There is an unequal power relationship in the classroom as has been pointed out by such worthies as Foucault, which one must be both aware and wary of in order to avoid exploiting it to propagate a personal agenda which your students have not signed up for.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Larry,

    Humility is precisely the right word. Where do the academics who believe they are in a position to foster personal growth in their students get the idea that someone with as narrow a life-experience as they have is in a position to help? They have certificates in cleverness, not wisdom.