Ngày 23 tháng 03 năm 2009

Dân Chủ và Giáo Dục

Đây là một số nhận xét về quyển Democracy and Education của John Dewey theo kiểu commonplace.

Phạm Anh Tuấn có dịch sách này sang tiếng Việt với tên "Dân chủ và Giáo dục" do Nhà xuất bản Tri Thức xuất bản.

Là một sách triết lý vậy phải nhận rằng đây là một quyển không phải dễ đọc. Nhưng tôi nghĩ rằng đây là một sách rất cần thiết, nhất là ở Việt nam. Ở Mỹ, dù không có nhiều người đọc sách này (ngoài ngành giáo dục), từng ý kiến đã được áp dụng trong nền giáo dục, vậy tôi đọc sách này không thấy quan niệm của ông Dewey xa cách quan niệm của tôi cho lắm. Mục đích của ông Dewey là mở rộng sức sáng tạo của từng cá nhân đang quá trình học tập. Quan niệm của Dewey là một xã hội dân chủ sẽ tạo điều kiện thuận lợi nhất để phát triển khả năng sáng tạo của từng con người. Dân chủ ở đây không có một ý nghĩa chính trị, nhưng lại thuộc về một cách trao đổi trong xã hội tạo cơ hội để nhiều ý niệm có thể tranh cạnh với nhau một cách thoải mãi và bình đẳng.

Dewey định nghĩa giáo dục là "vital energy seeking opportunity for effective experience." (ch. VI / 1)

Theo Dewey - the technical definition of education "that reconstruction or reorganization of experience which adds to the meaning of experience, and which increase ability to direct the course of subsequent experience." (ch. VI / 3)

"What one is as a person is what one is as associated with others, in a free give and take of intercourse" (ch. IX / 3)

Dewey định nghĩa văn hóa (culture) là "the capacity for constantly expanding in range and accuracy one's perception of meaning" (ch. IX / 3)

XIII / 3 - Intellectual integrity, honesty, and sincerity are at bottom not matters of conscious purpose but of quality of active response... When the demands and wishes of others forbid their direct expression they are easily driven into subterranean and deep channels. Entire surrender, and whole-hearted adoption of the course of action demanded by others are almost impossible... Amiable individuals want to do what they are expected to do.

One has only to recall his own experiences in school or at the present time when outwardly employed in actions which do not engage one's desires and purposes, to realized how prevalent is this attitude of divided attention--double-mindedness... A double standard of reality, one for our own private and more or less concealed interests, and another for public and acknowledged concerns, hampers, in most of us, integrity and completeness of mental action.

XVII / 2 - "... [S]cience marks the emancipation of the mind from devotion to customary purposes and makes possible the systematic pursuit of new ends."

Khoa học đánh dấu sự giải thoát của tâm trí khỏi hiến những mục đích thường lệ và làm cho thể hiện được những kết quả mới bằng một cách tìm tòi có hệ thống. (tôi tạm dịch)

"Science represents the office of intelligence, in projection and control of new experiences, pursued systematically, intentionally, and on a scale due to freedom from limitations of habit."

Khoa học tiêu biểu cho một trung tâm trí thông minh, cùng sự chiếu và điều khiển của những kinh nghiệm mới, tiếp tục một cách có hệ thống, một cách có ý định, còn theo quy mô bởi quyền tự do khỏi các hạn chế của từng thói quen. (tạm dịch)

X/3 - The object of thinking is to help reach a conclusion, to project a possible termination on the basis of what is already given. Since the circumstance in which thinking occurs is a doubtful one, thinking is a process of inquiry, of looking into things, of investigating. Acquiring is always secondary, and instrumental to the act of inquiring.

It also follows that all thinking involves risk. Certainty cannot be guaranteed in advance. The invasion of the unknown is of the nature of an adventure; we cannot be sure in advance.

Vậy sự suy nghĩ luôn đòi hỏi sự nguy hiểm. Sự tin chắc không thể bảo đảm trước.

XVII/2 - Science, in short, signifies a realization of the logical implications of any knowledge.

Science represents the office of intelligence, in projection and control of new experiences, pursued systematically, intentionally, and on a scale due to freedom from limitations of habit. It is the sole instrumentality of conscious, as distinct from accidental, progress.

Khoa học tiếp tục một cách có hệ thống, có ý, và theo mô hình nhờ sự tự do đối với sụ hạn chế của các thói quen.

XIX/2 - The two distinctions, psychological and political, translated into educational terms, effected a division between a liberal education devoted to knowing for its own sake, and a useful, practical training for mechanical occupations, devoid of intellectual and aesthetic content. While the present situation is radically diverse in theory and much changed in fact, the factors of the older historic situation still persist sufficiently to maintain the educational distinction, along with compromises which often reduce the efficacy of educational measures. The problem of education in a democratic society is to do away with the dualism and to construct a course of studies which makes thought a guide of free practice for all and which makes leisure a reward of accepting responsibility for service, rather than a state of exemption from it.

XX/1 - The notion that knowledge is derived from a higher source than is practical activity, and possesses a higher and more spiritual worth, has a long history. The history so far as conscious statement is concerned takes us back to the conceptions of experience and of reason formulated by Plato and Aristotle. Much as these thinkers differed in many respects, they agreed in identifying experience with purely practical concerns; and hence with material interests as to its purpose and with the body as to its organ. Knowledge, on the other hand, existed for its own sake free from practical reference, and found its source and organ in a purely immaterial mind; it had to do with spiritual or ideal interests. Again, experience always always involved lack, need, desire; it was never self-sufficing. Rational knowing, on the other hand, was complete and comprehensive within itself. Hence the practical life was in a condition of perpetual flux, while intellectual knowledge concerned eternal truth.

There is something morally dangerous about experience, as such words as sensual, carnal, material, worldly, interests suggest; while pure reason and spirit connote something morally praiseworthy. Moreover, ineradicable connection with the changing, the inexplicably shifting, and with the manifold, the diverse, clings to experience. Its material is inherently variable and untrustworthy.

Only the single, the uniform, assures coherence and harmony. Out of experience come warrings, the conflict of opinions and acts within the individual and between individuals. From experience no standard of belief can issues, because it is the very nature of experience to instigate all kinds of contrary beliefs, as varieties of local customs have proved. Its logical outcome is that anything is good and true to the particular individual which his experience leads him to believe true and good at a particular time and place.

XXII/2 - Men must observe for themselves, and form their own theories and personally test them. Such a method was the only alternative to the imposition of dogma as truth... An interest in discovery took the place of an interest in systematizing and "proving" received beliefs.

A just philosophic interpretation of these movements would, indeed, have emphasized the rights and responsibilities of the individual in gaining knowledge and personally testing beliefs, no matter by what authorities they were vouched for. But it would not have isolated the individual from the worlds, and consequently isolated individuals--in theory--from one another... Through social intercourse, through sharing in the activities embodying beliefs, he gradually acquires a mind of his own.

Yet there is a valid distinction between knowledge which is objective and impersonal, and thinking which is subjective and personal. In one sense, knowledge is that which we take for granted... Of course we may be mistaken. What is taken for knowledge--for fact and truth--at given time may not be such... Thinking on the contrary, starts, as we have seen, from doubt or uncertainty. It marks an inquiring, hunting, searching attitude, instead of one of mastery and possession. Through its critical process true knowledge is revised and extended, and our convictions as to the state of things reorganized.

XXV/1 - The dualism here is between knowledge as something external, or, as it is often called, objective, and knowing as something purely internal, subject, psychical. There is, on one side, a body of truth, ready-made, and, on the other a ready-made mind equipped with a faculty of knowing--if it only wills to exercise it, which it is often strangely loath to do.

Another current opposition is that said to exist between the intellect and the emotions. The emotions are conceived to be purely private and personal, having nothing to do with the work of intelligence in apprehending facts and truths,--except perhaps the single emotion of intellectual curiosity. The intellect is a pure light; the emotions are a disturbing heat. The mindturns toward outward to truth; the emotions turn inward to considerations of personal advantage and loss.

XXV/2 - The theory of the method of knowing which is advanced in these pages may be termed pragmatic. Its essential feature is to maintain the continuity of knowing with an activity which purposely modifies the environment. It holds that knowledge in its direct sense of something possessed consists of our intellectual resources--of all the habits that render our action intelligent. Only that which has been organized into our disposition so as to enable us to adapt the environment to our needs and to adapt our aims and desires to the situation in which we live is really knowledge. Knowledge is not just something which we are now conscious of, but consist of the dispositions we consciously use in understanding what happens. Knowledge
as an act is bringing some of our dispositions to consciousness with a view to straightening out a perplexity, by conceiving the connection between ourselves and the world we live in.

XXI/3 - ... any subject is cultural in the degree to which it is apprehended in its widest possible range of meanings... To see scientific fact or law in its human as well as in its physical and technical context is to enlarge its significance and give it increased cultural value... The important thing is that the fact be grasped in its social connections--its function in life.

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