Sunday, September 18, 2011

What if... "antimanipulation" were part of the local curriculum?

A marvelous New York Times Magazine article today, My Family’s Experiment in Extreme Schooling, concerns the experience of three American siblings, children of a Times correspondent, in attending an experimental school in Moscow where instruction is only in Russian:
New Humanitarian had standard subjects, like history and math, and Danya had many hours of homework a week. But [school founder Vasiliy Georgievich Bogin added courses like antimanipulation, which was intended to give children tools to decipher commercial or political messages. He taught a required class called myshleniye, which means “thinking,” as in critical thinking. It was based in part on the work of a dissident Soviet educational philosopher named Georgy Shchedrovitsky, who argued that there were three ways of thinking: abstract, verbal and representational. To comprehend the meaning of something, you had to use all three.

When I asked Bogin to explain Shchedrovitsky, he asked a question. “Does 2 + 2 = 4? No! Because two cats plus two sausages is what? Two cats. Two drops of water plus two drops of water? One drop of water.”
Well, then. There might be fodder here, too.

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