Bridges To Autonomy

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Overview

Teaching is a paradoxical activity, beset by ironies and apparent contradictions:

•Educated people are autonomous and self-directed, but schooling generally involves expert direction of compliant and dependent students.
•Empathy, imagination, and creativity characterize fully actualized people, but these qualities seem at odds with mastering received bodies of material.
•Societies value testable facts and ...

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More About This Book

Overview

Teaching is a paradoxical activity, beset by ironies and apparent contradictions:

•Educated people are autonomous and self-directed, but schooling generally involves expert direction of compliant and dependent students.
•Empathy, imagination, and creativity characterize fully actualized people, but these qualities seem at odds with mastering received bodies of material.
•Societies value testable facts and abilities, but these are of little use, and can even be dangerous, without maturity of character.
•Educators rightly value teaching for maturity, but risk in the process indoctrination or natural resistance.
•Modeling forthrightness would seem indispensable to character development, but some of the most effective teachers induce learning by good-natured trickery.

These are genuine paradoxes, in that even when we work out credible resolutions for them they tend not stay solved. Their tensions continue to bedevil us in each new class, with each new student, and at each phase of learning.

The insights and conclusions of this conversation are neither inflexible doctrines nor a compendium of abstract disputes unrelated to actual teaching practices. Rather, the reader at once witnesses and participates in the philosophy of education as a vital process, experiencing the kind of passionate and imaginative conversations that good teachers often have, and from which they learn to understand and engage the elusive art of teaching.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780983185383
  • Publisher: Piraeus Books LLC
  • Publication date: 8/17/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.38 (d)

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  • Posted November 27, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    A Metaphysics of Inter-Relationships Matthew R. Silliman and David K. Johnson have published a second book in their series about ¿Bridging¿ or rather ¿Bridges¿¿the first ¿Bridges To The World¿ about the bases of knowing (epistemology) and being (ontology) from Platonic philosophy to radical constructivism¿in the form of Socratic dialogues in a contemporary setting with a new set of characters who incarnate the various viewpoints and perspectives. The main characters from the first book are present once again in their second book¿¿Bridges To Autonomy: Paradoxes in Teaching and Learning¿¿which deals with the challenge of fostering a sense of responsible self-hood and autonomy in both teachers and students in an ongoing relationship of mutual respect and regard for the mind and conscience of the other. I particularly enjoyed the 2nd half of the book when they engaged or rather re-engaged the original ancient Socratic Dialogues which are in many ways the model and motif of their entire endeavor. The question of ¿Autonomy¿ is of course at the heart of the discussion and dialogue in the second book. I was drawn to the observation of Jules on Page 125 about the dangers of ¿reductive individualism¿ in ¿values education¿ and his statement that ¿the development of character is deeply rooted in social conscience¿it¿s all about relationship¿ he concludes. To which I say, ¿Right on, Jules!¿ I recall my days as a student in an Existentalist Philosophy class having to read Soren Kierkegaard¿s ¿Fear And Trembling¿ in which he defined the Self as ¿a relation that relates itself to its own self before the Power of Being which constituted it¿ or something along those lines. I took this in a strictly individualist sense of being aware of one¿s own unique self apart from others and the nature of human consciousness as pure self-awareness. What was missing for me and I believe for Kierkegaard was the sense of connection with others and with society at large¿in short a metaphysics of inter-relationships¿which is where Silliman and Johnson are headed in their endeavor to build ¿Bridges To Autonomy.¿ Today more than 50 years later I have come to see and recognize the relational nature of the human self throughout the aging process from youth to adult to elder. Any concept of human ¿autonomy¿ must take into consideration the relational nature of the human self in both teachers and students. Our sense of self, and hence autonomy, is always a work in process, in an on-going relationship to the totality of being in society and nature. Or as Jules put it more succinctly, ¿it¿s all about relationship.¿ Together may we build bridges of mutual understanding and respect across the troubled waters of the world and find our sense of autonomy in a lived philosophy and metaphysics of inter-relationships. Richard M. Fewkes West Dennis, Mass.

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