E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s Solution: Depth/Breadth binary is a “premature polarity. Polarization is a “barrier to progress.”
Hirsch’s Solution: Understanding the Four Principles of Learning will resolve the binary.
The ability to learn something new is not primarily a general, formal skill. Is domain specific Learning to learn entails acquiring relevant knowledge about specific domains.
General ability to learn is highly correlated with general knowledge. Learning ability depends chiefly on having relevant prior knowledge.
The best way to learn a subject is to learn its general principles and to study an ample number of diverse examples that illustrate those principles. Deductive application.
Broad general knowledge is the best entrée to deep knowledge. “I draw this conclusion from the field of psychology called discourse analysis. The most effective way to introduce the meaning of a discourse is to start with a summary…. After students gain a broad context by developing a sense of the whole domain, they can mentally fit the various parts that follow into that whole, and makes sense of them.”
Problems: Conclusions are anecdotal. Children start fitting parts into wholes in early childhood in the nascent development of domains. Many discoveries made during the early careers of scientists before domain completion— Why?
Problems (cont.) Thinking “inside the box” of domain paradigms See Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Solution: Don’t wait for domain completion to give opportunities for the depth needed for fitting pieces together. It won’t be perfect. It may be messy-creative It will take time away from breadth. They’ll be more engaged.
Solution They’ll remember it better. Which means they can make more connections and be more creative down the road with it. They may not score as well on standardized test— but where is there a correlation between test scores, creativity and good science.
Solution (a little Philosophy): Don’t try to resolve the binary. Let the opposing sides battle it out. Another words: Quit trying to reform education by resolving binaries such as depth/breadth, etc. Let education be a chaotic mess!
Say what?! That’s right— a chaotic mess! To understand this let’s talk about binaries!
Binaries are a part of many philosophical/religious systems. Binaries express opposites that defy resolution, ie: they’re paradoxical Ying— Yang One—Many Subject—Object Good—Evil Yada—Yada
What happens when you resolve a binary? —Nicholas of Cusa: The Fall introduces binaries: good/evil, life/death, etc. The Divine Logos is the Coincidentia Oppositorum. %&$! happens when man tries to resolve binaries. Resolution only through “transfiguration.”
What happens when you resolve a binary? —Jacques Derrida All reality and knowledge thereof is a human construction. Constructed through formation of binaries. Resolve binaries results is the dissolution of meaning. What you have left is nothing.
So what we have is the ultimate binary: God and Nothing — Nicholi Berdyæv But out of this God-Nothing complex comes creativity. You know…Genesis… God speaking to the void, Let there be….
What do we propose: Don’t resolve the binary with government imposed solutions! Let both poles battle it out. In the chaos of nothing (no solution) there is freedom to be creative! But right now the balance is swung to far to breadth so….
However… There may come a time when the binary balance may need to be shifted towards depth. Keep Big Government out! Principle of Subsidarity: best & most representative government is closest to the people. Local control allow more nimble shifts in balance and easier for binary poles to “yell” at each other.