“The only purpose of education is Freedom, the only method is experience” – Leo Tolstoy
Every educator I have known has stories of how they were inspired and impacted during their time as a student. Mine tend to focus on issues of authority, freedom, and trust. I love working with young adults and trying to help them realize their power and responsibility in the world. I believe that schools should be intellectual places and vibrant communities, built on strong relationships and that policies and curriculum are best when developed together and locally, allowing teachers and learners maximum trust and freedom.
I was first introduced to the education philosophy of Leo Tolstoy by a dear friend (and Tolstoy descendant) while I was a research student at Oxford University. My thesis focused on attempts to provide students with mathematical authority in the context of the secondary classroom. The statement that you read at the beginning of this post illustrated to me how simple the motivation behind education should be, but how complex and difficult the practice of education is.
If the purpose of education is freedom, then surely we must educate by allowing and encouraging freedom. If the method is experience, then we must empower students and teachers to make use of their experience. Thus, true education cannot be imposed or controlled but must involve choice, experiment, interaction, messiness—each context will be different, each problem different, each solution different, and any standardized, scripted, approach ultimately doomed to failure (almost by definition).
In this blog, I hope to share my musings, some of my work, and the thoughts and experiences of some teachers that I know personally. I hope to interact with friends, colleagues, students, and strangers…so read and comment and hopefully we can produce something invigorating.