ECS 210 Response: Unpacking a Piece by Aristotle

Response to a Prompt: Choose a quotation related to education. It might be a quote from lecture, a quote from the list posted here, or a quote you found independently. In a post, unpack that quote.

  • Think about what it makes possible and impossible in education.
  • What does it say about the teacher, about the student?
  • How does it relate to your own understandings of curriculum and of school?

I am choosing the following quote to respond to:

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle

I chose this quote because I have often thought about this exact notion in the past. I have also experienced it myself and witnessed it in others.

I found this blog that helps to explain how this quote may be interpreted. There is a lot of overlap between their understanding of Aristotle’s quote and my own general understanding of it.

Simply put, it is crucial to be able to “tear apart” an idea or notion, fully examine it, and see both sides of the equation. After unraveling the pros, cons, and effects of said idea, is one able to use what they have learned from their analysis and practically use what they have learned?

Another aspect I understand of this quote is not accepting anything at face value. Just because there are popular views about ideas, does not mean that those views are valid.

There are limitations of this quote, especially with the use of the term “educated”. Just because someone can acknowledge an idea and even intelligently unpack it, does not mean that they are educated. I am sure that lots of formally uneducated individuals are able to take into consideration ideas without accepting them at face value.

As educators, we often have one way of thinking about ideas, and we pass on those biases to our students. Even curriculum-writers have biases. But, who are we to say what is meaningful to teach? It is time to stop endorsing our biases and rather, learn the depths of an idea, and then continue learning about that idea, through research and communicating with others. It is only then that we can firmly endorse an idea.

Additionally, I think that people are often not as “wrong” and often not as “right” as we believe. It is often the people who have not critically analyzed ideas, that are the most confident. This confidence often translates into the general population believing that these ideas are the correct ones. Thus, the people who have critically analyzed ideas often do not know how to coherently and confidently communicate their truths. Either way, it is important that we do not always just nod our heads to agree with others’ ideas. We need to do the background work ourselves, but unfortunately many of us do not “have time” for this. In other words, we do not make time for this.

We owe it to our students and to humanity as a whole to provoke and support diverse thinking. Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”, and how true this is…


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