chapter  8
13 Pages

THE CHILD AS AGENT OF HIS OWN EDUCATION

No doubt there is an element of moral condemnation in some of these denunciations of the activity of teaching. In using words like damaging, hurtful, annihilate, hinder and destroy, these writers locate themselves amongst those whose educational philosophy is anti-authoritarian. In part, they are questioning the moral right of teachers to pose as arbiters of the truth about the universe or as mediators of a culture which may seem alien to the child. We have already discussed the belief that authority must degenerate into authoritarianism and that the teacher, as an authority and a disciplinarian, constitutes a threat to the child's integrity and his freedom (see Chapter 4). But, as was also noted above, the Piagetian-inspired insistence upon postponing much of the formal learning which occurs in schools derives its justification from psychological rather than moral insights (see Chapter 5). And the passage just quoted from Piaget is notably free of the emotively and morally charged terminology of Froebel and Rogers. This underlines the point that the concept of the active child as against the passive teacher requires discussion of technical as well as moral educational concepts (see Chapter 1, pp. 17-18). Having settled to one's satisfaction the question of the right of anyone to teach anyone else, there are distinctively psychological concepts which require elaboration: 'What does it mean to claim that the child can only learn through his own self activity?' 'What exactly is being argued in the assertion that it is impossible to teach anything to anyone else?' 'Is there any sense in which someone might be said to have taught another person?'.