Thursday, February 13, 2014

Herbartian education.

Johann Friedrich Herbart (May 4, 1776 – August 14, 1841) was a German philosopher, psychologist, and founder of pedagogy as an academic discipline. As such, he was influenced by Pestalozzi and of influence to early educators including Froebel. Herbart was a frail child due to an unfortunate childhood accident and “he barely saw the world outside his study and the classrooms” making “his world the world of books and only books”. And yet, because of or in spite of his own situation, he became interested in how we learn and how we observe and assess reality.

Herbart's Concept of the Real, from Wikipedia...
Building upon the teaching methods of Pestalozzi, Herbart contributed to pedagogy a psychological basis to help facilitate better learning as well as to ensure children’s character development. He was the first individual to point out how important a role psychology plays on education. In developing his ideas about psychology, Herbart came to disagree with Kant about how true knowledge is obtained. Kant believed that we become knowledgeable through studying the innate categories of thought, while Herbart believed that one learns only from studying external and real objects in the world as well as the ideas that come about from observing them. Examining the difference between the actual existence of an object and its appearance, Herbart concluded that “the world is a world of things-in-themselves, [and] the things-in-themselves are perceivable. ”Everything’s appearance indicates that it exists. He considered all external objects existing in the world as reals, which can be compared to Leibniz's concept of monads.
There is actually very little new under the sun, and when it comes to educational theory, folks are continually claiming to have reinvented the wheel. The academic arguments as to the fundamental nature of reality, and the gulf between the language base interpretation of reality, and the actual reality as it can be perceived, have gone on and on, and have impact on the design of education. Is it OK for children to be simply indulged in fantasy and conjecture derived from reading, and the presentation of ideas by others through lecture, written material or web based second hand information, or should children be involved in direct investigation of reality? 

I choose the latter.

The following is from William James, 1902: "Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal formulation. There is in the living act of perception always something that glimmers and twinkles and will not be caught, and for which reflection comes too late."

Make, fix, create and encourage others to do likewise...

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