Information Age Education Blog

The goal of IAE is to help improve education at all levels throughout the world. This work is done through the publication of the IAE Blog, the IAE-pedia, the IAE Newsletter, books, and other materials all available free on the Web. For more information, go to http://iae-pedia.org/.
5 minutes reading time (937 words)

The Multiple Academic Cultures Faced by an Elementary School Teacher

Many years ago, when I first became a faculty member in the University of Oregon College of Education, I heard about C.P. Snow and his ideas on Two Cultures. I didn’t read his material, but I agreed with his ideas of science versus non-science ways of viewing the world and as areas of scholarship. Although I had been sort of brainwashed by my mathematician father during my childhood to believe that Mathematics was not only the queen of the sciences but the queen of intellectualism, I was gradually coming to accept the idea that in every academic discipline there are a great many very smart people.

Recently I read C.P. Snow’s famous lecture (about 30 pages in length):

Snow, C.P. (1959). The Two cultures and Scientific Revolution. Available free online at http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs_5110/snow_1959.pdf.

I found a number of things in the lecture to be quite interesting. One was his discussion about why he decided to focus on two cultures—essentially math and the “hard” sciences versus the humanities and social sciences.  He did not choose to also consider the cultures of the various professional areas such as Architecture, Business, and so on. Also, he was not faced by more recently developed areas such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Cognitive Neuroscience that cut across all disciplines.

I enjoyed his historical and (then) current insights into the agricultural, industrial, and scientific revolutions, and how the ongoing scientific revolution was changing the world. I also appreciated his analysis of rich nations versus poor nations, and his forecasts of very major changes likely to occur in some of the poor nations as they developed their intellectual capital. I was amazed at his prescience in predicting the development of China as a major industrial country.

When I read materials such as this, I try to relate them to our current educational system. Snow focused a lot of attention on the need for students to obtain a balanced education—balanced between STEM (math, science, engineering, technology) versus the humanities and social sciences. This made me think about our current elementary school system in which most of the teaching is done by teachers who are much stronger in the humanities and social sciences than they are in the STEM areas, and most of whom have only modest backgrounds in ICT and Cognitive Neuroscience.

In terms of the type of balanced and broad education that I believe elementary school students should be receiving, I think we have created a situation that overwhelms the education and capabilities of most teachers. We recognize this problem in the fine and performing arts and deal with it by making use of specialists in these areas. We try to overcome such difficulties in math and science by making use of highly scripted textbooks and supportive teachers' manuals.

At the current time we are trying to improve elementary school education in the language arts and math. Our focus on achieving depth in these two areas tends to leave students with quite superficial insights in a broad range of curriculum areas and cultures that are important aspects of developing a responsible and fulfilling adult life in our society.

What You Can Do

You know that the message sent is not necessarily the message received. You, for example, have “constructed” a personal meaning to my message given above. My overall intent is to provide you with some information and ideas that you will act upon in a manner that leads to improving our informal and formal educational systems.

So, pause for a few seconds and think about the meaning you have constructed from my message and some possible action that you might take based on that meaning. What occurs to you that you, personally, will try out in your quest to improve our education system?

As a personal example, I have enjoyed seeing how ICT is becoming of increasing value in the non-STEM fields. Computational thinking is an approach to computer literacy that cuts across all disciplines. In addition, a number of the computer tools that people routinely use today also cut across many different disciplines.

Final Remarks

Spend a bit of time reflecting on what you have just read. How does the information fit in with your current knowledge, beliefs, and activities? How can you make use of the information to help improve our informal and formal educational systems? Who do you know that might benefit from reading this IAE Blog entry?

The IAE Blog entries tend to have a relatively long "shelf life." However, over time, the references tend to get out of date. You can help your fellow readers and IAE by adding a Comment that includes an up-to-date reference and its URL. Your Comment should include a couple of sentences summarizing the up-to date-information and ideas.

Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications

All educators are engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Artificial Intelligence. (Think of AI as a tool that cuts across many disciplines.)

Computer literacy, computational thinking, and David Perkins' idea of "person-plus." IAE Newsletter - Issue 12, February, 2009. 

Crowdsourcing and memes. IAE Newsletter - Issue 7, December, 2008.

Garbage in, garbage out—for computer and human brains.

ICT integrated into the discipline content areas.

Key ideas from Christensen, Horn, and Johnson's 2008 book, Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. The book explores how Distance Education is changing our schools. IAE Newsletter - Issue 26, September 2009. 

Moursund Editorial/High Tech—High Touch.

Real world and video game realities. IAE Newsletter - Issue # 40 April 2010. 

The Biological Relevance of Music.  IAE Newsletter - Issue # 53 November 2010. 

Transfer of Learning.

 

IAE

 

 

Thoughts about Henry David Thoreau's Writings abou...
In Some Sense, All Teachers Are Ethnographers
 

Comments

David Moursund (website) on Thursday, 13 June 2013 17:20
C. P. Snow's ideas are applicable to all of us

Written by Dave Moursund, November 23, 2010.

C.P. Snow's two cultures focused on on two relatively small groups—those who are high level professionals in the STEM areas (science,technology, engineering, math) and those who are high level performers in the literature and arts areas.

Most people do not fall into either category. Most people nowadays receive an informal and formal education that gives them some insights into the two cultures that Snow discussed as well as a broad range of other areas and aspects of our world.

I am particularly interested in children getting a breadth of education that gives them some insight into the knowledge, skills, and experiences that it takes to gain appreciable satisfaction from participating in many different areas. A person does not need to become a professional artist, musician, writer, mathematician, engineer, etc., to have insight into and appreciation of what people do in these areas.

Children should learn to communicate with and understand people who have specialized in different areas. This means communicating with people from many walks of life and from many different professions. A carpenter's or plumber's insights into the world may be much different than those of a banker or store manager, and these may be much different than those of a school teacher or musician.

Public schools can contribute significantly to this part of a child's education because of the diversity of the parents of children in the schools. (Aha! Chalk one up for public schools!)

Written by Dave Moursund, November 23, 2010. C.P. Snow's two cultures focused on on two relatively small groups—those who are high level professionals in the STEM areas (science,technology, engineering, math) and those who are high level performers in the literature and arts areas. Most people do not fall into either category. Most people nowadays receive an informal and formal education that gives them some insights into the two cultures that Snow discussed as well as a broad range of other areas and aspects of our world. I am particularly interested in children getting a breadth of education that gives them some insight into the knowledge, skills, and experiences that it takes to gain appreciable satisfaction from participating in many different areas. A person does not need to become a professional artist, musician, writer, mathematician, engineer, etc., to have insight into and appreciation of what people do in these areas. Children should learn to communicate with and understand people who have specialized in different areas. This means communicating with people from many walks of life and from many different professions. A carpenter's or plumber's insights into the world may be much different than those of a banker or store manager, and these may be much different than those of a school teacher or musician. Public schools can contribute significantly to this part of a child's education because of the diversity of the parents of children in the schools. (Aha! Chalk one up for public schools!)
David Moursund (website) on Friday, 14 June 2013 15:52
Looking beyond Snow's two cultures

Written by Dave Moursund, November 23, 2010.

C.P. Snow's two cultures focused on on two relatively small groups—those who are high level professionals in the STEM areas (science,technology, engineering, math) and those who are high level performers in the literature and arts areas.

Most people do not fall into either category. Most people nowadays receive an informal and formal education that gives them some insights into the two cultures that Snow discussed as well as a broad range of other areas and aspects of our world.

I am particularly interested in children getting a breadth of education that gives them some insight into the knowledge, skills, and experiences that it takes to gain appreciable satisfaction from participating in many different areas. A person does not need to become a professional artist, musician, writer, mathematician, engineer, etc., to have insight into and appreciation of what people do in these areas.

Children should learn to communicate with and understand people who have specialized in different areas. This means communicating with people from many walks of life and from many different professions. A carpenter's or plumber's insights into the world may be much different than those of a banker or store manager, and these may be much different than those of a school teacher or musician.

Public schools can contribute significantly to this part of a child's education because of the diversity of the parents of children in the schools. (Aha! Chalk one up for public schools!)

Written by Dave Moursund, November 23, 2010. C.P. Snow's two cultures focused on on two relatively small groups—those who are high level professionals in the STEM areas (science,technology, engineering, math) and those who are high level performers in the literature and arts areas. Most people do not fall into either category. Most people nowadays receive an informal and formal education that gives them some insights into the two cultures that Snow discussed as well as a broad range of other areas and aspects of our world. I am particularly interested in children getting a breadth of education that gives them some insight into the knowledge, skills, and experiences that it takes to gain appreciable satisfaction from participating in many different areas. A person does not need to become a professional artist, musician, writer, mathematician, engineer, etc., to have insight into and appreciation of what people do in these areas. Children should learn to communicate with and understand people who have specialized in different areas. This means communicating with people from many walks of life and from many different professions. A carpenter's or plumber's insights into the world may be much different than those of a banker or store manager, and these may be much different than those of a school teacher or musician. Public schools can contribute significantly to this part of a child's education because of the diversity of the parents of children in the schools. (Aha! Chalk one up for public schools!)
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Monday, 21 September 2020

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://i-a-e.org/

Joomlashack