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About Progressive Teaching

World-View and Values

Progressive values should set the ideals of teaching, and learning in American society.  Unfortunately, the “cloud of authoritarianism looms over education, making it very difficult to design instruction around progressive values. In this post we examine education through the lens of the progressive world-view.

Progressive World View

In order to understand how world-views can be used to examine education, we are using the cognitive modeling and cognitive theory of metaphor by George Lakoff.  Lakoff in his book Thinking Points:

formulated the nation-as-family metaphor as a precise mapping between the nation and the family: the homeland as home, the citizens as siblings, the government (or the head of government) as parent.  The government’s duty is to citizens as a parent’s is to children: provide security (protect us); make laws (tell us what we can and cannot do); run the economy (make sure we have enough money and supplies); provide public schools (educate us).

World view refers to the culturally-dependent, generally subconscious, fundamental organization of the mind,” according to William W. Cobern, who has done extensive research on world-view and how it impinges science teaching.  One’s world view predisposes one to feel, think and act in predictable way, according to Cobern.  World-view inclines one to a particular way of thinking.

Rachel Carson: Progressive Scientist and Educator, Illustration by Joe Ciardiello

My argument about trying to explain the current state of schooling in the U.S., will take into consideration two different political and social world-views, the conservative world-view, and theprogressive world-view.  Both world-views have played significant roles in American history, including public education.  In the most recent post on this blog, we looked at the conservative world-view.You might want to read that post first, before going on with one.

 Nurturing Family & Progressive Morality

In Lakoff’s research, the nation-as-family conceptual metaphor can be used to help us understand our political worldview, and in my argument, this will also enable us to explain how progressive values differ from conservative values, and how they affect education in America.

In Lakoff’s research he has shown that this conceptual metaphor produces two very different models of families: a “strict father” family and a “nurturant parent” family.  In his view this creates two fundamentally different ideologies about how the nation should be governed.  I am suggesting that these two views can teach us about how education in America should be organized and “governed.”

In Lakoff’s view, the progressive world-view is based on the nurturant parent family.  He suggests that nurturing has two key aspects: empathy and responsibility.  Lakoff explains that nurturant parents are authoritative but with out being authoritarian.

If we apply the nurturant parent model to politics, Lakoff suggests that what we get is a “progressive moral and political philosophy.  The progressive world-view then is based on these two ideas:

  • Empathy: the capacity to connect with other people, to feel what others feel, to imagine oneself as another and hence to feel a kinship with others.
  • Responsibility: acting on that empathy—responsibility for yourself and for others.  (Lakoff, George (2006-10-03). Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision(Kindle Locations 827-830). Macmillan. Kindle Edition)
The purpose of this cornerstone landing page is to highlight progressive teaching, and contrast it with the conservative view of teaching.

 

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