Sample Essay

Words 3,219

A teacher’s methodology of teaching is likely to be greatly influenced by what the teacher conceives the minds of the students to be like.

Postman asserts each time a teacher plans an educational activity, it reflects the teacher’s preference for one metaphor of the mind or another (Postman, Conscientious objections: stirring up trouble about language, technology and Education, 1988).

Each metaphor of the mind has different connotations and implications for the teacher –student exchange.

In the words of Neil Postman: “If you believe that the mind is like a dark cavern, you will suggest activities that are quite different from those suggested by people who believe the mind is like a muscle or an empty vessel” (Postman, Language Education in a Knowledge Context, 1980).

Imagining the students to be ’empty vessels that needs to be filled to overflowing’ has serious epistemological implications.

Firstly, there is the idea that the student is ’empty’ that they have no previous knowledge and no opinions of their own this is very unlikely to be true or if they have any, they are unimportant and should be abandoned by the students. Like the silt that gathers at the bottom of a water vessel or algae growing in an out of the way corner, the student’s own knowledge and opinions are to be swept away by cleaning power of the teacher’s superior knowledge.

Secondly, there is the idea that whatever knowledge, facts or opinions the teacher provides, those are exactly what the student needs, the students are water vessels, and the teachers fill them with water.

A good water vessel is one that preserves the water in its original state. This implies that the students must not question what the teacher tells them or think for themselves and add something to their body of knowledge.

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