This is a first draft of an AfL syllabus I generated for myself as a way of summarizing much of what I was learning & using.
Your feedback, especially critical, is welcomed.
If you want to find out more about the KNOW’s you might want to check out this presentation and this post.
I plan to append a reading list but for now this reading list will have to do.
How do we enable all of our students to be successful?
The key word to explore further is the concept *successful*. Is success understood as meeting some pre-specified metric that is DETERMINED previous to assessment??
This is one assumption of measuring success.
However, John Dewey offers another *ideal* of educational success as acquiring *flexible habits* which has a specific meaning for Dewey. Dewey states, “Man is a creature of habit, not of reason nor yet of instinct”. If habits are central then what are *successful*habits? Habit for Dewey is a MIDDLE-WAY term, a SPACE between the student and environment, between freedom and constraint, between mind and body, between nature and culture. For Dewey character formation is the development or cultivation of particular types of habiits which are flexible and open. Intelligent deliberation is an activity divided between conscious reflection and unconcious habits as dynamic being in the world. Habits are ALWAYS in play.
This notion of *success* responds philosophically to the question of how we engage all of our students to be successful. As a philosophical RESPONSE or ANSWER to a question, it does NOT offer measurable ASSERTIONS as an answer. Philosophy invites us to go deeper into the question and generate further questions.
Can we view education as developing *character* as particular *ways* of responding and answering questions? Dewey’s term for this type of flexible movement or orientation to the world is *conduct*. Conduct which generates ALTERNATIVE possibilities which can be better or worse. Conduct as a term emphasizes there is always a division of labour BETWEEN conscious behavior and unconscious habit.. EDUCATING means helping our students to FORM THE HABIT of questioning and rethinking our imaginative RESPONSES in which we generate options. This type of conduct [habits & reflection] as imaginative is the central capacity to concretely perceive what is before us in the world in light of what COULD BE. It’s opposite as an educational ideal is to become cultivated to orient to STANDARDIZED MEANINGS.
Dewey’s notion of conduct as openning possibility, generating meanings that proliferate rather than becoming standardized is a notion of education as cultivating transformation. Transformation as conduct consciously and reflectivly engaging in interactions but ALWAYS in relation to developing habits. Elena Cuffari, using Dewey’s notion of *conduct* as the relation between habits and reflection emphasizes all answers to questions are situational and subject to change. Not answering questions *as* solutions or assertions rooted in standardized truths. In Dewey’s notion of conduct we are CALLED to make MORE of life visible. If we take Dewey’s challenge to heart and purposely cultivate habits, we are questioning the validity and arguing against standardized ANSWERS as ASSERTIONS. The guiding ethical ideal that Dewey articulates is to develop habits of openness that resist sedimentation and standardized answers.
In summary the question
“How do we ensure all our students are *successful*?
One possible answer is to respond to this question as an ethical and philosophical question. Education *as* cultivation of habits of flexibility and openness ensures all our students aquire the character to conduct themselves, through habits of reflection and deliberation, as persons capable of cultivating the habit of self-transformation
Always love your comments — you are a deep & comprehensive thinker.
I recently updated my “About Me” page on this blog.
Today re-read your comment and think we are similar in our thinking & aspirations for our students (though you articulate it much more fully than I can!).