The Evolution of the School Master

To teach is more complicated than I once thought. Upon reading the introduction and first chapter of the “Ignorant School Master” I learned that education has undergone many trials and errors and change of thought. A word that kept reappearing in the text was explication. After a quick google search I learned that the word described the process of analyzing and developing an idea or principle in detail. Learning this word led to a deeper understanding of the text as the job of the supposed school master was to explicate. The problem being examined then is the best way for a master to explicate to his or her students.

One of the topics that caught my eye as I was reading was the analysis of the relationship between the student, the text, and the master. One of the questions that Joseph Jacotot raised was that a specific topic would then be explicated twice to the student. This was the formal way of education. So, Jacotot decided to test what happened when students had to rely on a single form explication – the text. It was concluded that students reach a better form of understanding when the explication was given by the school master. I had never before considered this double way of teaching, and was glad to learn of his experiment in the area.

The reading also mentioned a hierarchy within education. The teacher has superior knowledge and for the student to learn, they are admitting that their knowledge is inferior to their master. Although this idea of a power-play between student and teacher doesn not sit well with my teaching philosophy, it is still interesting to learn about the intellectual levels of groups of people. The categorization and ordering of people is linked greatly to western worldview. I am able to see where each idea fits into the western worldview and understand the connection. I learned that even in the classroom there is still a large influence from western worldview despite how inclusive and diverse a teacher claims to be.

A question that I still have after reading is how do the effects of Joseph Jacotot’s work in the field of education continue to influence educators and schools today?

This entire reading makes me wonder about the advancement of self-education. With the advancement of technology and the internet it seems that it is becoming easier and easier to learn a desired topic or skill online. I am puzzled as to how the school master is being changed or cut out completely. Does the school master become the actor in a specific video used to learn? Meaning there would be dozens of such masters being learned from simultaneously. Or does the notion of a school master disappear from the equation and students are learning to adapt to a single form of explication?


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