How enlightened are you?

So there was a period called the Enlightenment which happened just after the Middle Ages. Its primary reason was to ‘enlighten’ the population, to help them start thinking, to  make them consider things beyond the dogmas induced by the church. In a way, we are the product of that Enlightenment, and everything that came afterwards (all the revolutions, including industrial and technological).

Education was a sure way of enlightening people. To my mind, this still is its primary goal. It’s not about putting something into a student’s head (that’d be manipulation), it’s about helping the student develop their own thinking. It’s not about saying what is true, it’s about helping them find what is true on their own (even if it might not be true for you, the educator). It’s not about giving the answers, it’s about helping them ask/formulate the right questions.

Education should be viewed as a model of interaction, where all the participants involved act to achieve specific goals. I particularly like the verb ‘interact’ as it renders the meaning of acting upon each other, in order to co-construct and negotiate the meaning.

Such a process is by no means unidirectional. The direction depends on the participants involvement, desire, and motivation to achieve their goals. That is why it is extremely important to set clear goals and objectives from the very beginning. What is more, each participant’s voice is to be heard and acknowledged. That would be the first negotiation in this interaction. It will also help the participants become more responsible and own their learning.

At the same time, such a process is open. Openness is actually what would help the participants evolve. It is open to changes, challenges, possibilities, revisions, and the list can go on.

It should also be viewed as an ongoing, never-ending process. Even if one participant shall leave, e.g. the more knowledgeable other, the others should be able to continue the interaction and scaffold their progress. Education is a sort of initiation in the way of creating valuable networks that would enhance the participants’ learning, and enable them to create their own networks in the future.

Such a complex, and yet such a vital process.

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6 Responses to How enlightened are you?

  1. Daniela Maican says:

    I agree with the ideas stated in this post. Though, the one that I find to be the most relevant for me personally is that education is supposed to teach one how to think critically and independently without imposing the educator’s thoughts upon the learner. Unlike math or astronomy, language is a subject matter that has a much easier access to both the teacher’s and the student’s subjective opinions. Because of this reason, there’s a very fine line between guiding and manipulating that can be easily crossed. It may be especially dangerous when it comes to teaching a language to primary school or early middle school students, who are usually very prone to grasping common beliefs without questioning them. That’s why I think that if we want “enlightened” generations, we must stop providing them with ready-to-go answers and start helping them to find what is true for them while exploring a new language.

  2. Paladichuk Lada says:

    I completely support the idea expressed in this article. I incline to speculate, that the discussion about the real aim of a teacher will be never stopped. After reflecting on this topic, i consider, that the teacher is the link between generations, the bearer of human, social, historical experience, largely determines the socio-cultural integrity of the civilization. This person should enlighten people what life is, aim gives them choice to decide without imposing their own opinion. Their goal is to navigate, assist and give a piece of advice, open the wide horizons , and not to veil some areas.
    Children are very sensible, especially in primary and secondary school. For some, the teacher is a authority. Let’s remember ourselves, it happened to everyone that you intentionally or unintentionally absorb your teacher’s point of view to please him. Here the same thing can happen. Of course, a teacher should express his or her opinion on this or that subject, and ask pupils “are you agree or not?”, “what do you think about this?”. If you do not agree with the ideas, start to argue, start discussions, prove it with arguments. It is very necessary to develop their attitude, because in this way, they will be ready to enter adulthood. The teacher’s task is to show that there are many different points of view, each of them has a right to exist. This is very difficult to judge, especially that refer to humanitarian sciences, as history, literature, language teaching and others.
    A teacher should educate individuals, not the gray mass of people that can be led by the nose by society .

    • vickycondrat says:

      An interesting point of view concerning the teacher’s role. Somehow I have the feeling that you believe that the authority of the teacher plays a crucial role in the process of language education. Have I understood you correctly? Could you be more explicit? Do you think that if the teacher adopts a friendlier way of interacting with students, they might not realize the learning objectives? 🙂

  3. Anastasia Ceban says:

    I agree with you on every idea expressed within this post. First and foremost, I would like to underline the viewpoint that education is “an ongoing, never-ending process” because I really think so. At school, college, university and any other educational establishment we are trained in what ways learning must take place in order to be lucrative and successful. Then after graduation we still learn but already by other means which, for the most part, include practice and applying the processed knowledge and formed skills.
    I am also aware of how significant it is to allow everyone to think critically and look at things from different sometimes opposite angles. I also realize how hard this task can be for an educator for the whole process goes easier when all the participants agree on the same well anchored opinion. There was a teacher during my mobility period who was categorical and imposed her visions on the students just because she had doctoral degree and knew more than we did. There was no interaction, no opportunity to think critically at her lessons for any attempt to question her point of view was suppressed. Only after that experience through comparison I understood how crucial the ability to think critically is.

    • vickycondrat says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience. We always learned even from people who are imposing. We learn not to be like them. It also helps us become more aware of the importance of critical thinking. 🙂

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