A Pedagogue on Learning

Monday, May 16                                                                   

When I was in college preparing for a teaching career, a co-worker in my Dad’s office asked me “How is the pedagogue doing today?” I had no clue as to what he was asking because I didn’t know what a pedagogue was. For the odd person that doesn’t know that word, a pedagogue is a teacher. It was an embarrassing moment that I obviously never forgot! I hate to admit it, but I was a senior in college and getting ready to start my student teaching stint. I’ve learned quite a bit about learning over the years. But what is learning? It’s the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, or a skill—as defined by a dictionary. Some people would expand that by saying that learning only takes place when the knowledge has been applied. If the knowledge doesn’t have any affect on your life, you haven’t learned anything. Or, put another way, the information gained is not useful, pertinent, true, or workable. That’s OK except that “application” has more than one meaning. Knowing a certain bit of truth may imply the need for change in my attitude or conduct, but that is merely academic. It doesn’t require acting appropriately. That’s a moral issue.   When my conscience is in working order, I know that I have a choice. I can either change or I can subvert it some way, either by denying the truth, minimizing it, or rejecting it. So when is truth applied? And when does learning take place? A young child can lie without really understanding that it is wrong to lie. As he grows and gains more information, he will probably come to grips with the moral issue. He then must choose what to do with that little segment of understanding. He will know enough to realize that when he lies, it is bad, but does he henceforth never lie? Accepting knowledge and its implied application is one thing, but living by it is something else. By the way, I used the term “odd person” above. It, too, has more than one meaning. I hope you chose the right one.

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