Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Good Teacher

Even though John Dewey never had to walk through a metal detector to go teach a workshop, I think some of his writings on education remain useful for professional teaching artists to consider. I wonder what Mr. Dewey would say about a school system that daily requires thousands of young people of color to submit their bodies to inspection; surrendering their shoes, belts, jewelry and dignity before they are allowed to learn?

Excerpt: Preoccupation with the Disconnected

by John Dewey

The following is a talk given by Dewey to the New York Academy of Medicine, 1928.

The very problem of mind and body suggests division; I do not know of anything so disastrously affected by the habit of division as this particular theme. In its discussion are reflected the splitting off from each other of religion, morals and science; the divorce of philosophy from science and of both from the arts of conduct. The evils which we suffer in education, in religion, in the materialism of business and the aloofness of "intellectuals" from life, in the whole separation of knowledge and practice--all testify to the necessity of seeing mind-body as an integral whole.

The division in question is so deep-seated that it has affected even our language. We have no word by which to name mind-body in a unified wholeness of operation. For if we said "human life" few would recognize that it is precisely the unity of mind and body in action to which we were referring. Consequently, when we endeavor to establish this unity in human conduct, we still speak of body and mind and thus unconsciously perpetuate the very division we are striving to deny.

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