seems that kids have been known to watch East-Enders rather than do their
homework. Turning up at school tomorrow without your homework is bad enough,
but turning up without being able to talk with your friends about what happened
at The Vic last night - too much!
writers in literary theory are beginning to suggest that we all need the
sort of gossip that occurs in and around Albert Square. Our kids might
be right - living without gossip is living dangerously. The argument goes
like this: gossip is about 'what's going on', 'who did what to whom',
'what she did about it', 'what went wrong', 'how they are going to get
themselves out the mess' - and, of course, 'what I would do now, if I
have deep links to the way we think. They help us to work out the way
things are, how one thing leads to another, are and what can be done about
them. So - as species - we are better at stories than we are at concepts.
The kids might have a point.
Rorty might agree. He argues that we do not learn to know the truth; we
learn to know what to do and to be accepted into the group. In arguing
this he radically extends an important stream of pragmatic thinking in
philosophy. It has already proved influential in education: John Dewey
crops up more than once in most teachers training.
is post-modern in the sense that he is not much concerned with with 'objective'
truth. If he is right he present a bit of a problem to supporters of the
National Curriculum. Richard is concerned with the usefulness of what
need to get excited about this. 'What is true' and 'what is useful' may
not be interchangeable concepts but - on closer examination - they are
not so very different either. However, the shift of emphasis - however
slight - has radical implications for anybody - like us - who is concerned
has trawled evolutionary thinking, which shows how learning is a survival
tool. You see that what that might mean: education could be thought of
a life skill. Could Shakespeare could be thought of as clue to who we
are and what we might do? Students might discover that the classroom can
help them live their lives. Now, that really would come as a surprise.
would also put careers work and education for citizenship to at the heart
of curriculum. Indeed, it could give us a bolder, deeper, truer and more
useful concept for the organisation of curriculum: 'life-role relevant
learning', or - to put it another way - 'learning for living'.
a 'A good read' for serious thinkers the Café will review
Richard Rorty: Philosophy and Social Hope. London: Penguin, 1999.
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