Modern Philosophies of Education

Modern Philosophies of Education

Modern Philosophies of Education

Modern Philosophies of Education

Excerpt

In education, as in other human enterprises, it is easy to erect an artificial barrier between the theorist and the practitioner. The man who specializes in the task of thinking through the crucial issues which underlie the surface activity of the profession is sometimes tempted to regard those who carry on the activity as being mere rule-of-thumb operators unaware of the real meaning of the things they do. The man in the field, similarly, is often too ready to look at the educational theorist as an impractical dreamer juggling verbalizations and unable to cope with the everyday problems of the craft. Thus a wall of mutual distrust, sometimes tinged with contempt, is built between those who work at doing the job and those who work at examining the job critically.

Not only is this barrier unnecessary; it is also a distinct drag on professional progress. The mutual attitudes of superiority giving rise to it are often compensatory responses to suspicions of inferiority, suspicions which are usually justified. Many an educational theorist could not manage a school successfully to save his professional life; sometimes he cannot even teach a university class competently. It is also true that many a practical school administrator or teacher, proud of his mastery of workable devices and technical minutiae, has so little knowledge of what the educational shooting is all about that he is doomed to be a mere mechanic without real comprehension of his direction and purpose.

This barrier between the man who does and the man who knows is broken down when each one recognizes the justice in the other's position and thus secures a summation of the truth concerning the nature of professional competence. The whole truth is that no man can hope to achieve a high quality of practical success unless he bases his activity on a firm foundation of sound theory, and no theory is worth formulation unless it includes all the available suggestions of everyday practice. The great practitioner is always a theorist, and the great theorist is always a practical man.

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