As a Spanish national living in the UK, it has always struck me as curious how the British often speak about Europe and the Europeans as if they themselves weren’t in Europe or, indeed, Europeans.
But Brits are not alone in this – when you think about it, everyone does it: we all seem to be hardwired to find that which is different and other, even in the face of overwhelming similarity. It seems to be the natural thing to do.
It would appear we have evolved to reason by juxtaposing concepts and establishing dichotomies. And it makes sense too. From an evolutionary point of view, dichotomies and juxtapositions help us to quickly and effectively differentiate between danger and safety, friend and foe, right and wrong, thus ensuring our survival and, along with it, this adversarial approach to problem solving and reasoning.
Such dichotomies and juxtapositions can clearly sometimes be helpful when it comes to explaining and understanding the world in which we live, but they often lock us into pointless debates and arguments that do nothing to widen our understanding of teaching and learning and improve the nature of the education we provide our children.
In my opinion, educators tend to get mired in ultimately pointless arguments such as whether schools should teach ICT as a skill or as a subject, or whether they should use computers or books, pens or keyboards… and, in doing so, they fail to realise it’s never a question of either/or but rather of as well as.
I propose then a more more positive debate in which there are fewer instead-ofs and more in-addtition-tos, fewer ors and more ands. A debate in which teaching and learning is allowed to free itself from the constrains of juxtapositions and dichotomies.
What do you think?
Photo by Dimitri Papazimouris