The Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) is a not for profit professional organization whose mission is to strengthen and serve Teaching Artists from all disciplines in New York, California, and beyond. Connect. Get jobs. Go Teach!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Since you are a professional TA, you may relate when I reveal that I am usually carrying around a slew of dog-eared books in my satchel. This week, my subway companion is a classic by the remarkable Donal Schön.
First of all, there’s the view that what we know is a product. There is a body of knowledge. It is a set of results which are, at best, the results of research carried out in the universities. It’s knowledge that is determinate in the sense that there are right answers: questions have right answers. It’s the business of the teachers to know what the right answers are and to communicate them to students. The knowledge is formal and categorical; it is explicitly formulable in propositions that assign properties to objects or express in verbal or symbolic terms the relations of objects and properties to one another. And let me tell you a story: the Russian cognitive psychologist, Vygotsky, who worked just after the Russian Revolution, worked with peasants, some of whom had been to the collective schools and some of whom had not. And he gave them little tests. And the basic pattern of the test was "Put together the things that go together." So he showed this peasant a hammer, a saw, a hatchet and a log of wood, and he said, "Put together the things that go together." And the peasant said, "Well, clearly, what goes together is the log of wood and the hatchet and the saw because you use the hatchet and the saw to cut the wood for firewood." And Vygotsky said--and this was his regular strategem--"I have a friend who says that the saw, the hammer and the hatchet go together because they are tools." And the peasant answered, "Then your friend must have a lot of firewood!