The Great Debate as most of you know is what Mortimor Adler said is a conversation going all the way back through time and recorded in classic works of literature. He called this a conversation and believed that when we stopped as a nation entering in to this conversation is when our educational system began to fall apart. This conversation has one main question; Is this true? We read Socrates and ask, did he come to the correct conclusion when he decided that if his country was the greatest country in the world and decided he should die, that he should submit to this. We ask Victor Hugo should a man really be able to leave behind his labels that the government says he should wear. We ask John Locke why a man has a right to property, and we even ask does he really have this right. We ask this and a thousand more questions and then we ask, why. We then read what these authors say and we discuss these questions with our friends and with our mentors. This is how we gain an education. This is how we become a thinking people, capable of judging what is good and bad and what is true. Will we disagree? Of course, and that is okay. We should disagree and we should discuss our disagreements.
This is in sharp contrast to a system that says, we will decide for you what is true and then we will put you in the system and rank you according to how well you have digested and agreed with what we have decided. Don’t ask questions unless you are told to and don’t have any ideas of what you want to learn other than the ones we have included in our standards for today. And this continues on for most of us through college, unless we jump ship.
I happen to believe the former is a better education and am currently having a really hard time trying to stay on the latter as I work towards my teaching credential, because of course I can’t possibly be a good teacher until I am properly stamped. I have three and a half classes to go and am so ready to be done so that I can again ask why, and feel free to disagree with ideas I come in contact with, of course I do disagree often, but don’t say anything on graded assignments. The ungraded discussions are a different story=).
This is why I read in my spare moments. I would grow stale if I didn’t. I read Howard Gardener-who I often disagree with, I read Louis L’Amour-who has sound principles, but I still find myself wondering why his characters do certain things, and I read many other authors. Then I take my readings and discuss them. I recently found this website http://www.gw.edu/misc/radio/ where they are doing the same thing. A group of people get together read an article or a book and then go on the radio and discuss it. Fabulous! Of course, these are mentors and thinking people, so they disagree, feel passionately and make one think. I love it.