Experiencing Disciplines
David Ng
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David, on further reflection I’m also struck by the openning of this piece. I think you’re pointing out that disciplines and subdisciplines not only address different content, but different ways of thinking and this implies that in someway cognition follows practice. This is a core idea of pragmatism and Dewey. When you learn to be a roboticist your thinking becomes different from a mechanical engineer or a programmer. It not just about applying content or past knowledge in new ways, it’s about learning to think like a roboticist. When thinking about Google Scholar’s motto: “Standing on the shoulders of giants”, we are not just absorbing the content of our intellectual heirs, but we’re also entering into their discourses and learning how they thought. Discourses also act in similar ways to disciplines as tools for thinking; whether it’s with colleagues or with writers from the past like Dewey.

Dewey is a man who I believe is not well understood and it is often not interpreted in a correct light. Maybe even Dewey didn’t understand all the implications of his thinking. Progressive Education is an example. It might be better understood as pragmatic education. Your ideas on vertical learning are important as it enlighten previous ideasand adds to the discourse. What you’re pointing out is frequently not understood by people who speak about Progressive Education and Discovery Learning. Standardized education thinks only about content and not it’s vertical application in education. It’s not that standardized test are bad, but that they are developed in an abstract way that doesn’t recognize the implications of vertical learning, hence Discovery Learning also looks foolish and inefficient. There is a great need for theorist to add to this discourse and to be re-interpreters of people like Dewey, Vygotsky, Peirce and others.

I look forward to learning more of your thoughts.