Sunday, October 02, 2005
"There is a profound difference between learning from the world and learning about it."
Lowell Monke has a fantastic article in the current issue of Orion entitled, "Charlotte's Webpage: Why children shouldn't have the world at their fingertips." It's an insightful look at the serious consequences brought by educational settings that rely on virtual or technological access to the world. Here's another quote.
"We can only learn who we are as human beings by encountering what we are not. While it may seem an impossible task to provide all children with access to truly wild territories, even digging in (healthy) soil opens up a micro-universe that is wild, diverse, and "alien." Substituting the excitement of virtual connections for the deep fulfillment of firsthand engagement is like mistaking a map of a country for the land itself, or as biological philosopher Gregory Bateson put it, 'eat[ing] the menu instead of your meal.' No one prays over a menu. And I've never witnessed a child developing a reverence for nature while using a computer."
Let me refer you to the entire article, but also suggest that this represents another way to explain the value of experiential learning, of studying abroad, of outdoor education, of field studies, and of the humanities understood as relevant to individuals and communities. Yes, "map is not territory," and unfortunately a lot of what constitutes traditional higher education deals primarily with maps. At CRI, we're aiming for the territory.