I finally received my copy of Neil Postman’s “Teaching as a Subversive Activity” (1969) in awesome condition (thx RoundTowerBooks!) when I noticed the beautiful stamping on the cover…
pretty clever huh?
Howard Rheingold recommended this ancient text over a twitter conversation, where he also linked to a downloadable PDF version (820kb). I later found an abstract of the method advocated in the book, namely Inquiry Education.
Towards inquiry education, authors Postman and Weingartner realized that good learners center their activity on the “dynamic process of inquiry itself, not merely on the end product of static knowledge”.
As such, a teacher adhering to the inquiry method in pedagogy must behave very differently, by having the following characteristics (pp. 34–37):
- They avoid telling students what they “ought to know”.
- They talk to students mostly by questioning, and especially by asking divergent questions.
- They do not accept short, simple answers to questions.
- They encourage students to interact directly with one another, and avoid judging what is said in student interactions.
- They do not summarize students’ discussion.
- They do not plan the exact direction of their lessons in advance, and allow it to develop in response to students’ interests.
- Their lessons pose problems to students.
- They gauge their success by change in students’ inquiry behaviors (with the above characteristics of “good learners” as a goal).
Some of us educators might already be well-aware of learning as “a journey rather than a destination”, so this book certainly helps provide both the motivation and framework for achieving just that with your students. If you’re so inclined, you can get a physical copy for yourself through Amazon.