'LEARNING' AS THE PROCESS OF ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH INNER AND
OUTER EXPRESSION OF TRUTH: 'AUTHENTIC DIALOGUE'
theme: Dialogue is indispensable to the act of cognition which unveils reality or 'truth'. Search for the truth involves integration of new experience with previous experience in a process of acquiring authentic knowledge. Knowledge is developed through learning which involves the construction of meaning (contemplation or 'inner dialogue') and the negotiation of meaning (discussion or 'outer dialogue') i.e. 'experiential learning'.
"The essence of dialogue is the 'word.' Two dimensions of the word are 'reflection' and 'action.' Without reflection, the word becomes 'activism'. Without action (communication), the word becomes 'verbalism.' Dichotomizing the word makes it false and results in inauthentic forms of thought and existence." (Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed)
TRADITIONAL PARADIGM OF EDUCATION IS BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT KNOWLEDGE IS FINITE AND CAN BE POSSESSED The traditional paradigm of education is based on the moral codes of 'Protestantism' i.e. 'moralism'. According to the moralist view, social problems are perceived in terms of the individual's lack of a moral sense of what is 'right' and 'wrong'. Consequently social reform is conceived in terms of helping the individual through 'discipline' and enforcement of the 'law'. Institutionalisation of the law is the basis for moralistic aims of education which are to bring about desired 'behavioural outcomes' through conditioned learning or 'conditioning'.
The concept of learning as conditioning is justified by principles of behavioural psychology or 'behaviourism'.
POLITICS OF 'TRADITIONAL EDUCATION': THE TEACHER HAS 'CONTROL' OF THE STUDENT AS A PASSIVE LEARNER The 'behavioural paradigm' of education is based on the assumption that knowledge is a ready-made and finite entity which can be possessed and then transferred from a person with authority - the 'teacher' - to another person as passive recipient - the 'student'. Responsibility for learning or 'control' resides in the teacher and emphasis is on the technical aspect of teaching. This makes it possible to translate control into power thus encouraging meaningless 'passive learning'. The paternalistic relationship between teacher and student or 'student/teacher contradiction' is characteristic of education as compulsory attendance at school or 'schooling'. Education as schooling focuses on learning as 'content' which must be memorised i.e. 'rote learning'. Rote learning is 'passive learning' which does not involve the 'process' of natural learning. Education for passive learning which denies the instinctive motives for learning or 'human needs' is education for 'domination' and 'manipulation' or 'indoctrination'.
Human needs are the source of instinctive organismic motivation or 'intrinsic motivation'.
THERE IS A HIERARCHY OF HUMAN NEEDS There is a range of subconscious human needs which can be described in terms of a hierarchy of urgency or 'prepotency'. First are the physiological 'survival needs' - food, water and shelter. Second are the so-called 'basic psychological needs' or 'ego-needs' for psychological security and belongingness or 'self-esteem - care and affection. Third are the 'higher psychological needs' or 'growth needs' for self- or 'ego-transcendance' - the 'spiritual needs' or 'metaneeds' - spiritual love as lovingkindness or 'compassion'. Gratification of metaneeds is the basis for mature growth or 'self-actualisation'. Self-actualisation is a function of consciousness of emotional forces based on human needs as the source of intrinsic motivation. The 'learning emotions' are 'deep meanings' or 'drives' which determine the type of thinking or 'cognition' i.e. 'motivational type'. Motivational type determines the nature of cognitive activity which leads to interpetation and evaluation of the environment. The subsequent behaviour can be either creative and 'adaptive' or destructive and 'non-adaptive'.
Learning emotions provide the sense of direction and the energy which is required for adaptation to changes in the social environment.
HUMAN NEEDS MUST BE MET IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT OR 'EDUCATION' During the course of human development, each set of needs becomes apparent as the more urgent needs are met and motivations for behaviour shift from a strong expression of motivation of deficiency - 'deficiency motivation' - to the subtle expression of motivation of sufficiency - 'growth motivation'. The well developed or 'balanced' personality is motivated by the metaneeds. Motivation by the metaneeds is 'growth motivation' or 'metamotivation'. Metamotivation is the most effective type of motivation for 'meaningful learning' as adaptation to constantly changing social conditions i.e. learning for 'adaptability'. Human adaptability depends on education which recognises and respects the conditions required for gratification of human needs as functional in human growth and development.
Student passivity is the cause for declining motivation which is at the root of the educational crisis.
DENIAL OF INTRINSIC MOTIVATION LEADS TO DECLINE IN MOTIVATION: 'PROBLEM OF MOTIVATION' Denial of motivation for learning leads to decline in motivation which inhibits self-development i.e. the 'problem of motivation'. As a result of the problem of motvation the individual is unprepared for challenges of a changing social environment. Educational issues are further trivialised as symptoms of a so-called 'educational crisis'. The educational crisis is explained away with the message that schools can make serious changes in education without making changes in basic assumptions about its aims... claims which are questioned today.The problem of motivation puts into question the hierarchical and mechanical methodology of the traditional paradigm of education.
Authentic knowledge requires that it be acted upon and shared with others in order to confirm new ideas and perspectives through experience. It requires 'freedom of expression'.
VALID OR 'AUTHENTIC' KNOWLEDGE MUST BE DEVELOPED THROUGH LEARNING WHICH INVOLVES BOTH CONSTRUCTION OF MEANING (CONTEMPLATION) AND NEGOTIATION OF MEANING (DISCUSSION): AUTHENTIC DIALOGUE OR 'FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION' Knowledge of information, ideology and belief can be acquired through learning from experience i.e. 'experiential learning'. Experiential learning or meaningful learning' is a natural capacity of the natural 'meaning-maker' or 'brain'. The function of the brain is to make meaning... make sense of the environment - one's social situation, one's experience, one's 'world' - in order to stimulate thought and behaviour which is creative or 'adaptive'. Adaptive behaviour depends on the development of valid experiential knowlege or 'authentic knowledge'. The development of authentic knowledge depends on the connection between the private world of cognition and the shared world of social interaction or communication i.e. 'dialogue'. There are two types of dialogue: first, dialogue as reflection of critical thinking in the construction of meaning or 'cognition' - internal discourse or 'contemplation' of 'inner dialogue'; second, dialogue as critical discourse with informed others in the negotiation of meaning i.e. external discourse or the action of communication or 'discussion' of 'outer dialogue'. Both inner dialogue and outer dialogue coincide to generate 'dialogical knowledge' according to the extent of development of 'moral consciousness' or 'conscience'. Any 'change of consciousness' is a result of the integration of new perspectives with previous knowledge i.e. 'authentic understanding' or 'authentic knowledge'.
Authentic dialogue is a function of collaboration or 'love'. "Love is not sentimental, but an act of courage, freedom, and humility". (Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed)
AUTHENTIC DIALOGUE IS AN ACT OF CREATION WHICH IS BASIC TO HUMAN DIGNITY Dialogical relations foster human solidarity or 'universal love'. Love is intense faith in the human organism and in the human vocation for authentic liberation and humanisation i.e. 'freedom'. Feedom of solidarity expressed by authentic dialogue cannot exist in the absence of a profound love for the world and for people. The free individual is able to look critically at the world in a 'dialogical encounter' with others. They can learn to perceive the contradictions in their personal and social reality. They can be conscious of their own perceptions of that reality, and if provided with the proper tools they can deal with it critically. In this context of freedom of thought and freedom of expression, words take on the power of new meaning. The individual gains a new self-awareness and a new sense of hope - the basis for control of their own learning. Self-directed learning allows the individual to regain their sense of dignity to communicate with authentic dialogue and thus win the struggle for liberation from injustice. Authentic dialogue or is based on the right of the individual to create meaning and to negotiate meaning. Authentic dialogue is an act of creation. 'Creative dialogue' produces 'dialogical knowledge' depends on critical thinking... generates critical thinking and objective perception i.e. the perception of reality as 'process'. ...requires mutual trust generated by the united reflection of inner dialogue and action of outer dialogue. The integration of inner and outer dialogue necessitates shared control of the learning process... resolution of teacher/student contradiction i.e. 'humanisation'. In a humane environment the dialoguers address their world together...In this context of 'dialogical relations', the teacher does not regard the 'cognizable' material as his private property but instead presents it to the students for their consideration and is ready to change any earlier considerations as the students express theirs. Students and teachers learn from each other. They teach each other. Both address their act of cognition... which is mediated by material issues under discussion i.e. the 'world'. Both grow in their joint responsibility for the process of learning.
The teacher shares responsibility for learning through creative dialogue.
FREEDOM IN EDUCATION: THE TEACHER'S ROLE IS DEFINED IN TERMS OF THE 'FACILITATION OF LEARNING' Education as 'true education' is a function of authentic dialogue.Teaching is a matter of developing and encouraging the learner's sense of control as responsibility for their own learning. In the context of shared responsibility, teaching is a matter of negotiating meaning. The function of the teacher is to engage in the facilitation of learning and the teacher's role is to be a facilitator of learning.
The facilitative teacher has attitudinal qualities or 'attributes' which make for conditions of optimal learning or 'optimalearning
POLITICS OF EDUCATION IN THE HOLISTIC PARADIGM: 'CONTROL' OF THE NEGOTIATION OF MEANING LIES IN THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE LEARNER: THE STUDENT IS AN ACTIVE LEARNER In the context of education, control is not a matter of having power over anyone else. Control refers to the opportunity and the ability to make decisions about the goals and management of learning. 'Control' is responsibility. The individual in the position of 'control naturally accepts active responsibility for their learning. Control as responsibility translates into 'self-empowerment'. Self-empowerment is a function of both the construction of meaning - inner dialogue - and the negotiation of meaning - outer dialogue. The self-empowered learner is actively in control of an active learning process which depends on the intervention of criticism and strives for the emergence of consciousness. 'Active learning' is a function of psychological and emotional self-directedness or 'freedom' to take responsibility for the resolution of one's own problems. So-called 'problem-posing education' is the practice of freedom - freedom of thought or 'inner freedom' and freedom of expression or 'outer freedom'. With the problem-posing methodology, the student-teacher contradiction is overcome through dialogue based on perception of the person as a whole - a physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual being - 'holistic perception' of the human organism as a social organism or 'human nature'.
Education based on respect for human nature is 'person-centered education' or 'holistic education'.
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