Postman, N. and Weingartner, C. (1971) ‘Teaching As A Subversive Activity’ Penguin Books. London
‘Teaching As A Subversive Activity’ was a seminal text for me during the earliest stages of my Teaching and Learning journey. Though rather old, somewhat outdated and primarily aimed at primary and second-level teachers, the book contained some persistently relevant ideas – most notably the concepts of ‘selective forgetting’ (page 195, bottom para), the idea of ‘learning to learn’ (page 204) and the essential development of students’ ‘crap detectors’ (page 204).
'Survival in a rapidly changing environment depends almost entirely upon being able to identify which of the old concepts are relevant to the demands imposed by the new threats to survival and which are not. Then a new educational task becomes critical: getting the group to unlearn (to forget) the irrelevant concepts as a prior condition to learning. What we are saying is that ‘selective forgetting’ is necessary to survival.' (page 195 bottom para)
One of the most wonderful notions in the book was ‘the intellectual strategy’ for survival in times of disruptive change… 'Intellectual strategies for nuclear-space-age survival – in all dimensions of human activity – include such concepts as relativity, probability, contingency, uncertainty, function, structure as process, multiple causality (or non-causality), non-symmetrical relationships, degrees of difference and incongruity (or simultaneously appropriate difference).
The learning of such concepts will produce the kinds of people we will need to deal effectively with a future full of drastic change.' (page 204 (para 4 and 5))
'All of these concepts constitute the dynamics of the question-questioning, meaning-making process that can be called ‘learning to learn’. This comprises a posture of stability from which to deal fruitfully with change. The purpose is to help all students develop built-in, shockproof crap detectors as basic equipment in their survival kits.' (page 204 bottom para)
Still great learning for today's environment of disruptive change!