Language and Concepts in Education

Language and Concepts in Education

Language and Concepts in Education

Language and Concepts in Education

Excerpt

An explorer, traveling over a rough and uncharted terrain, stops occasionally to look back over the ground he has covered. He notes the features that stand out as landmarks against the general surface of the landscape; he assesses them, and then turns to survey the territory ahead, to chart his course and to estimate the difficulties that lie beyond. It is no less desirable for educators to review occasionally, and especially at critical points, the path they have followed, to note the chief features of the intellectual terrain over which they have come, as they try to chart their future course.

The chief landmarks of the intellectual terrain are its concepts. No argument is needed to show that the map of an intellectual region is sketched primarily in terms of what the "cartographer" sees as its main ideas. This is certainly true of the domain of educational theory and practice. On the basis of such concepts as need, interest, aim, learning, and subject matter, educational workers chart a program of education. Such a program provides an outline of the features making up the course of instruction; it provides a plan to be followed in traveling the course and a picture of the journey's end.

We are now at a critical point in the history of education. For half a century we have been busily charting an educational program based upon theoretical ideas and empirically tested propositions about how different sorts of skills, attitudes, and understandings are learned, how they are to be taught and tested for. But the program is now questioned by both laymen and professional workers alike. It is claimed that the program, like misconstructed maps, leads to unintended and improper destinations. These claims may be ill-founded or exaggerated beyond the scope of their importance. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that this is the case in some instances. But there is equally good reason to believe that some of our educational views are due for an overhauling.

For a number of years many educational workers have had the firm conviction that the ideas and principles by which practical programs are . . .

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