„In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them.“

—  Neil Postman, Context: In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them. What students do in a classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom's message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true. They are rarely encouraged to ask substantive questions, although they are permitted to ask about administrative and technical details. (How long should the paper be? Does spelling count? When is the assignment due?) It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used. Examine the types of questions teachers ask in classrooms, and you will find that most of them are what might technically be called "convergent questions," but what might more simply be called "Guess what I am thinking " questions.
Neil Postman photo
Neil Postman106
American writer and academic 1931 - 2003
Advertisement

Related quotes

„I see the tasks of social sciences to discover what kinds of order actually do exist in the whole range of the behavior of human beings; what kind of functional relationships between different parts of culture exist in space and over time, and what functionally more useful kinds of order can be created.“

—  Robert Staughton Lynd American sociologist 1892 - 1970
R.S. Lynd (1939) Knowledge of what? p. 125-6, cited in Karl William Kapp (1976), The nature and significance of institutional economics http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-6435.1976.tb01971.x/abstract. in: Kyklos, Vol 29/2, Jan 1976, p. 209

„It's kind of interesting to show that the strange features of quantum mechanics are actually observed. We still don't totally understand what it means.“

—  Leonard Mandel German physicist 1927 - 2001
as quoted by James Glanz, in Leonard Mandel, 73, Revealer Of Light's Weirdness, Is Dead http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/13/nyregion/leonard-mandel-73-revealer-of-light-s-weirdness-is-dead.html?sec=&spon=, New York Times (Tuesday, February 13, 2001)

Advertisement

„In order to understand what the world would become, we must first know what it was.“

—  Eric Wolf American anthropologist 1923 - 1999
Chapter 2, The World in 1400, p. 24.

Paulo Coelho photo
Paulo Coelho photo
Otto Weininger photo
Jiddu Krishnamurti photo

„You are actually what you are and to understand what you are, this process of comparison must come to an end.“

—  Jiddu Krishnamurti Indian spiritual philosopher 1895 - 1986
Context: Throughout life, from childhood, from school until we die, we are taught to compare ourselves with another; yet when I compare myself with another I am destroying myself. In a school, in an ordinary school where there are a lot of boys, when one boy is compared with another who is very clever, who is the head of the class, what is actually taking place? You are destroying the boy. That’s what we are doing throughout life. Now, can I live without comparison — without comparison with anybody? This means there is no high, no low — there is not the one who is superior and the other who is inferior. You are actually what you are and to understand what you are, this process of comparison must come to an end. If I am always comparing myself with some saint or some teacher, some businessman, writer, poet, and all the rest, what has happened to me — what have I done? I only compare in order to gain, in order to achieve, in order to become — but when I don’t compare I am beginning to understand what I am. Beginning to understand what I am is far more fascinating, far more interesting; it goes beyond all this stupid comparison. Talks & Dialogues, Saanen (9 July1967) http://www.jkrishnamurti.com/krishnamurti-teachings/view-text.php?tid=41&chid=1, p. 86

Advertisement
Miyamoto Musashi photo
Aron Ra photo
Noam Chomsky photo

„Human beings hold two types of theories of action. There is the one that they espouse, which is usually expressed in the form of stated beliefs and values. Then there is the theory that they actually use; this can only be inferred from observing their actions, that is, their actual behavior.“

—  Chris Argyris American business theorist/Professor Emeritus/Harvard Business School/Thought Leader at Monitor Group 1923 - 2013
p. 126: as cited in: Kenneth D. Shearer, ‎Robert Burgin (2001) The Readers' Advisor's Companion. p. 39

Advertisement
Mitch Albom photo

„You cannot sum up the behavior of the whole from the isolated parts, and you have to take into account the relations between the various subordinate systems which are super-ordinated to them in order to understand the behavior of the parts.“

—  Ludwig von Bertalanffy austrian biologist and philosopher 1901 - 1972
p. 68 cited in: T.E. Weckowicz (1989). Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972): A Pioneer of General Systems Theory. Working paper Feb 1989. p. 2

Robert Silverberg photo