Philosophy of Teaching Series: Postulate #5

Here is the elaboration of Postulate #5.

5. One can learn without a directly- or personally-involved teacher. One can learn from books and from other media. One can also learn from oneself. That is what experience is.

Mark Twain is famous for quipping that he never let his schooling get in the way of his education. Most of us have sensed at one time or another that the institutions with which we deal–including schools, colleges, and universities–sometimes act in counterproductive or even destructive ways. An otherwise healthy person can contract a fatal disease in a hospital, an abused parishioner can lose his faith in a church dedicated to nurturing it, and a school can protect and defend ignorance by the very nature of the way it operates. Just as health and faith do not need hospitals and churches to exist, neither does learning absolutely require schools or the teachers who are employed by them. Learning can take place when reason, informed by previous learning and experience, acts on observation of real things in the world. A person on whom nothing is lost is constantly learning, constantly enlarging his store of knowledge and understanding.

[Here is the original article, “My Philosophy of Teaching” (opens in new window).  For all the articles in this series, click on the Teaching Philosophy link below or under Categories to the right.]