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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