Aristotle and Learning as Engagement in Particulars
Most formal learning environments focus on transmitting disembodied ideas, abstracted from the contextual particulars that give them value. As educators work to communicate the “platonic ideal” of the construct (e.g., scientific method, mathematical formula, grammatical rule) independent of any potential context, they are stripping the value and meaning of that which is being taught. By operating under a bias that separates person, content, and context, they end up creating understandings that are free of any meaningful context with the misguided assumption that by not attaching them to any one context they will be more easily viewed as relevant to numerous future contexts. By creating a formal divide between content and context, person and context, and context and person, we undermine the very motivations for why the content being taught could have value of that the learner could apply what they are learning to create such value.
The irony is that educators then wonder...
- Aristotle, & Irwin, T. (1999). Nicomachean ethics (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.Google Scholar
- Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Christensen, C., Hall, T., Dillon, K., & Duncan, D. S. (2016). Competing against luck (HBX Connext). Boston: Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
- Lave, J. (1997). The culture of acquisition and the practice of understanding. In K. Kirshner & J. A. Whitson (Eds.), Situated cognition: Social, semiotic, and psychological perspectives (pp. 17–35). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Lombardo, T. J. (1987). The reciprocity of perceiver and environment. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar