Lives in Education: A Narrative of People and Ideas

By L. Glenn Smith; Joan K. Smith | Go to book overview
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Teaching, especially in schools, can be lonely and frustrating. There is comfort in knowing that others before us have struggled as we do. Some were famous; others remained long unheralded. A number compensated for their own troubled childhoods. Several were both forceful and effective. Some achieved powerful results through humility and persistence.

People in Europe and in those places once under European cultural domination, including the Americas, have constructed their world views through extensive reading in Greco-Roman-based liberal arts and humanities. Teacher education in the Americas has been and continues to be strongly influenced by this tradition. Educators who know how to talk about their own praxis (practice) in these traditional terms have an advantage over those who must search for other communication bridges.

From the earliest days of teacher training, history has been part of professional formation. Feeling part of a long and honorable calling is an important reason for knowing our educational heritage. It also puts us in touch with long-standing ideas and vocabulary. The differences in how Protagoras, Plato, and Aristotle thought about "reality," for example, are not only interesting but also critical in our contemporary arguments about how people learn and what is possible. Such labels as pedagogy, liberal arts, humanities, school, and education are vital parts of current speech. Knowing their derivations helps us decode them and use them more perceptively.

Another advantage in presenting educational ideas and practices in historical context is that we have a natural affinity for history. The narration of events is familiar and natural to most of us. We account for personal decisions and behavior by recounting sequences of prior happenings and experiences that we believe influenced whatever we are explaining. For example, we might account for our absence at a social event with the news that an old friend whom we had not seen for years called unexpectedly. We detail something of our past relationship with the friend to account for our decision. While we might not label such an ordinary event "history," this


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Lives in Education: A Narrative of People and Ideas


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