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(Pedagogy) Philosophy and Nonsense      
Thoughts about writing, education, and experience                                  Presented by Forrest D. Poston

The first goal of teaching is to strengthen, deepen and refine our intrinsic love of learning. All other goals and all methods must stem from that idea. Any that do not support that goal must at least be questioned and adjusted, if not eliminated. Otherwise, we are not teaching but training.

These lists are by no means complete, but they contain some essentials, foundational concepts that must be changed before any other changes can really help.  For example, longer school days or a longer school year only means reinforcing the problems rather than correcting them.  The treatment for arsenic isn't more arsenic.

Writing and Education

Autobiography Challenge

Considering Conclusions

Considering Introductions

Four Meanings of Life

Godot and the Great Pumpkin

A Major is More Minor Than
You Think

The Poetry Process (A look at 4 versions of a poem.)

Thoughts About Picking a Major

Quick Points About Education

Quick Points About Writing

Reading Poetry and Cloud Watching

Revising Revision

Reviving Experience

Reviving Symbolism

Using an Audience

What Makes a Story True?

What's the Subject of This Class? (Being revised.)

Why Write?

Writing and Einstein (The Difference Between Information and Meaning)

Writing and the Goldilocks Dilemma

Links to Other Sites
Concepts That Keep Schools From Working

1.  We fear pleasure and don’t believe that it can be used.

2.  We believe that pain is an indication of success.

3.  We believe that students don’t want to learn and must be forced to do so.

4.  We then create power structures based on controlling the students, which naturally creates rebellion.  We then use the rebellion as proof that students must be controlled and forced to learn.

5.  We believe that “learning” can be measured in clear, standardized ways, that test scores are a good measure of the success by students and teachers.

6.  We believe that these measurements can be done in the short term.

7.  We believe that people can be converted into numbers.

8.  We expect every student to “learn” the same things in the same way on the same schedule.

9.  We believe that all students “test” in the same ways.

10.  We believe that memorization and learning are the same thing.

11.  We believe that memorizing facts will generate knowledge.

12.  We believe that students must be “prepared for the job place.”

13.  We believe that more is better; more classes, longer days will fix problems.

14.  We believe that facts equal knowledge.



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Concepts Necessary for Successful Education

1.  Learning is intrinsically pleasurable; we are built to learn and enjoy learning.

2.  Memorization is only useful for a very limited number of procedures.

3.  We’re built to wonder why and to ask questions.  Therefore, teaching should be based on questions, not answers.

4.  Learning happens on various levels, and each level requires a different amount of time.

5.  Students learn in different ways and at different speeds.

6.  Teachers are just as varied as the students are, which means different teachers achieve their best results in different ways.

7.  Teachers must spend far more time with the students than with paperwork (either lesson plans or grading).

8.  Ideas always interact and inter-relate, which means students with interest in any subject will eventually have to understand all the basic subjects even if not in the same order, degree, or context.

9.  Understanding what a student has or hasn’t learned is more important than knowing how they score on a single set of questions.

10.  Learning can not be understood via any test that can be graded by a computer.

11.  Teachers are not merely information dispensers, and students are not merely information receptacles.

12.  Learning involves the interaction of ideas and information.  Ideas alone lack substance, while information alone lacks meaning and remains sterile.

13.  Teachers know their students better than the system does.

14.  At any given moment, the needs of the students outweigh the importance of the lesson plan.

15.  An engaged mind will seek further, work harder, and work more efficiently than a mind that’s forced to follow a set pattern.

16.  Once students are engaged with learning, the teacher becomes mentor, guide, and only rarely a staff sergeant.  The most important task for a teacher is helping students integrate what they’ve learned.
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Other Essays and Poetry

Something Somewhat Vaguely Like a Resume

Being Like Children

The Blessing and the Blues

The Cat With a Bucket List

Change, Church and Paranoia (a bit of silliness but true to the best of my memory)

David and the Revelation

The Dawn, the Dark, and the Horse I Didn't Ride In On (an odd, meandering, semi-romantic story)

Ghost Dancer in the Twilight Zone

The Hair Connection and the Nature of Choices

The Mug, the Magic, and the Mistake

Trumpet Player, USDA Approved


Selected Poems

The Poetry Process

Writing by Current or Former Students

Ms. Write Meets Her Match in Jr. Ms. Write Now
by Heide Perry

I'll Just Have Cats
by Cara Hummel

Toys to Toys
by Allyson Bowlds

Scribbles and Bits

Links to Other Sites