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Bharath Vallabha's picture

Traditional and Emergent Approaches: A Clarification

 I agree with your first point that the individualism of our general society has a problematic effect on education. Point taken. Though I think this still leaves open the issue about emergent education.

You say: "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"; "the modern class thrusts knowledge  upon an individual and argues that the knowledge is truth and must be understood as such". The thrust of your point, as I understand it, is that emergent classrooms can foster differing viewpoints, whereas traditional classrooms indoctronate by presenting claims simply as the truth.

It seems to me that the distinction you draw is not really between emergent and traditional classrooms, but just between good and bad classrooms. I assume that everyone agrees, no matter what their pedagogical philosophy, that a teacher who presents views as the truth and expects students to just accept them is not a good teacher. And that moreover, a teacher who can put differing views on the table and help students evaluate them is a good teacher.

As I am understanding it, the issue between traditional and emergent pedagogy isn't about whether teachers should foster discussion and different viewpoints. As I say, I think everyone should agree that that is what good teachers do. But the issue is about how to structure the classroom: for example, about whether classes should basically be driven by aims such as, "cover the well known views in a field" or "teach the accepted facts in the discipline". Thus the disagreement (as I understand it) is about whether classrooms should be treated as spaces where disciplines which are treated as set in stone are introduced to students, or as spaces where the disciplines are only the background for the students' growth as a class, whereever that might lead.

This is why, though I am symphathetic to the emergent pedagogy, it is not obvious to me that it is best way to go. For there can be good teachers teaching in a traditional way. And what to do about the students who come to the class wanting a traditional introduction to the discipline and not seeking the kind of growth the emergence perspective offers? One can say: "the kind of growth emergence pedagogy offers is exactly the kind of growth all students should want and which is best for them." That is a very substantial claim. What is the reason to believe that? What if saying that is just a way of bull dozing over students who have more traditional expections of a classroom?


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