Choosing a directionPosted: January 5, 2016
A comment on yesterday’s post noted that minimising ugliness is a highly desirable approach to take for many students, given how ugly their worlds are with poverty, violence, bullying. I completely agree that these things should be minimised but this is a commitment that we should be making as a society, not leaving to education. Yes, education is the best way to reduce these problems but that requires effective education and, for that, I return to my point that a standard of acceptable plainness is just not enough when we plan and design education. It’s not enough that our teaching be tolerable, it should be amazing, precisely because of the potential benefits to our society.
If, in education, we only seek a minimum bar then the chances of us achieving more than that are reduced and we probably won’t have a good measure of “better” should it occur. We can’t take intentional actions to change something that we’re not measuring.
Many of the ugliest problems in society have arisen from short-sighted thinking, fixes that are the definition of plain instead of beautiful or inspiring, and from not having a committed vision to aim for better. That’s why I’m so heavily focused on beauty and aesthetics in education, to provide a basis for vision that is manageable sized yet sufficiently powerful.
I won’t (I can’t) address every equity issue, every unfair thing, or every terrible aspect of modern educational practice in these pieces. But I hope to motivate, over time, why this rather philosophical approach is a good basis for visionary improvements to education.