Education and nature, part 1

By Gordon Rugg

There’s a debate going on in education theory about “natural” learning versus what happens in formal education. It’s not likely to end any time soon, because it’s framed in the wrong terms. This article is about how the framing relates to a more widespread set of intertangled issues involving beliefs about nature and the natural. It’s a broad overview; I’ll deal with some of the issues separately in later articles.

As is often the case, one key relevant phenomenon was first noticed a long time ago. The ancient Greeks were well aware of it; there’s a fair chance that earlier civilisations had also spotted it.

As is also often the case, the ancient Greeks proceeded to invent an explanation for the phenomenon which was very plausible, and which was also not just wrong, but actually worse than wrong, because it lured everyone off in the wrong direction for the next couple of thousand years.

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