The Reflective Teacher as Reflective Learner

The teacher has a place of honour in human history; there is an inherent nobility in teaching that persists even today when perhaps the teacher’s true worth is not adequately acknowledged by some parts of modern society. The core purpose of teaching, at least in the Western democracies, should be to produce free and creative citizens capable of balancing the desire for personal independence with a recognition of […]

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Putting the Makar in the Maker Movement

The makar has been an exalted component of Scottish literature and culture for more than 600 years. The makars were the makers of poems, the ancient poets and bards of Scotland. It is a term still in use here today. Skilled poets, we know, do not simply write poetry: they build and shape and rebuild and reshape poems, carefully constructing every syllable, […]

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The Learning Society: social and economic progress through education

The printing press sowed the seeds of social and economic progress, heralding a time when ‘change itself [became] the archetypal norm of social life’ (McLuhan). It then took another three centuries and more before the philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment were able to reframe the concept of progress as no longer merely change-as-happenstance but rather as a conscious effort to transform society for the […]

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The Penny University

The coffeehouse was a place for like-minded scholars to congregate, to read, as well as to learn from and to debate with each other, but it was emphatically not a university institution, and the discourse there was of a far different order than any university tutorial. The coffeehouse thus occupied a social space distinct from […]

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Values for Today’s Education

We want one class of persons to have a liberal education. We want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. So said Woodrow Wilson in 1909 to a group of trainee teachers, when he […]

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Learning in Abundance

So I then came to define education as learning under the assumption of scarcity, learning under the assumption that the means for acquiring something called knowledge are scarce. So said Ivan Illich during a series of interviews with David Cayley, first published in 1992, and re-published a couple of years ago in Ivan Illich in […]

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