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Brie Stark's picture

Focus on Individualism

I believe that these are, indeed, obstacles that must be addressed when discussing emergent pedagogy.  B. Vallabha brings up the point that, if a case study were made where a child was pursuing an education for motives such as financial help for her family, that emergent education wouldn’t perhaps be the best option.  However, I do not believe that it is the concept of emergent education that we’re dealing with in this case study – rather, I think we’re dealing with a failed concept of individualism and lack of ability to be esteemed as an individual in order to make progress.  This concept relates back to the fact that standardized tests are a crucial key to acceptance into college, which is ultimately what this case study aims for: to receive an honorable college degree in order to ensure financial dependence following college.  Or, even more, good individual high school grades can lead to a better job in the workforce immediately following high school.  Therefore, I honestly don’t believe that emergent pedagogy is the culprit here – it seems that our concentration on standardized testing and focus on individual progress without group interaction – is what drives this argument. 

Now, say there was a way developed by enthusiasts of emergent pedagogy for a student, such as the case study, to be evaluated at a group and individual level without the usage of grades or standardized tests—whereas these evaluations would be equal to the tests and grades and be looked upon with as much credit by the workforce and college.  Would this not conclude that emergent pedagogy has little to do with this scenario, but rather that our world is focused on rewarding individual achievement with grades and judging this individual achievement by subjective testing?  I would think this more of a problem than emergent pedagogy, itself.

I stated before that working and education is dependent upon group dynamics.  If this case study wants to ‘make it big,’ there is probably a greater chance of achieving this if she has been encouraged to perfect her group relationship skills throughout school rather than being encouraged to perfect her individual knowledge.  If she were only encouraged to perfect her individual knowledge, this knowledge would be sorely limited by ignorance to the outside world—she’d have no other viewpoints except her own and far less experience relating in groups (than she would have had with emergence); in today’s society, it seems that progress is being made tenfold faster with group dynamics than with individual progress.

While I do believe B. Vallabha brings up a good point, I believe this point can be addressed from a viewpoint that is a consequence of our educational system based on individualism, not on the encouragement of an educational system of emergence.  Emergence breeds success in both the social realm and educational realm.  As we have discussed before, education does not and should not end at school’s end—rather, life is a period of growing and development.  Even if this case study’s motives are for financial success, won’t she have to learn how to achieve that financial success over time?  Gaining financial success won't simply appear because she received great individual grades during school.  What better way to prepare her for the real world of emergence than through an educational system of emergence?  The only possible obstacles in her way have been mentioned above, and I believe that, in the future, these obstacles will become lesser as we begin to understand the value of emergent pedagogy.


You mention that emergent education forces values upon an individual.  I think this can be argued several ways.  The concept of education today is to sit in a lecture-style classroom, having ideas thrust upon you, with the intention of you believing and learning them.  In an emergent classroom, I believe that there is a buffer for this seemingly-value-pushing 'modern' education: you have the ability to force an opposite opinion, of which you could not have ordinarily done in the 'modern' education environment.

I would also argue that there is no value-neutral classroom because achieving a value-neutral system is nearly impossible---there are too many facets to cover in a class in order to present every  opinion and be truly value  neutral.  We discussed, in the previous posts, that for an emergent style classroom to be effective, the teacher must present arguments/articles from differing viewpoints in order to spark an opinion or a new idea.  This is probably the closest to value-neutral we'll ever get.

During a small discussion, Paul brought up the notion that emergent classrooms could be considered as indoctrinating.  However, I honestly think that every style of class can be considered indoctrinating--'modern' class-style being the most indoctrinating.  As I stated above, the modern class thrusts knowledge  upon an individual and argues that the knowledge is truth and must be understood as such.  In an emergent classroom, ideas are explored from differing perspectives and the indoctrinating aspect is lessened by the impact of opinion and argument.


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