Ten Principles of Methods (and Content)

Rich Gibson 2003

1.Methods and substance are inseparable; one creates and recreates, or undermines, the other.

2. An educator's goals should be clearly kept in mind, with all their social and political implications.

3. An educator must be able to locate her/himself within the existing social conditions, and to make courageous choices about whose interests will be served by curricula and pedagogy. The educator must be aware of his/her theoretical framework (philosophy, world-view) and, when possible, make it available to students for critique.

4. Methods should reflect an intersection of the community, the student, and the educator.

5. Methods are therefore idiosyncratic, but in general should be interrogative, evidence-seeking, provocative, critical yet friendly, linked to rational social and individual processes of gaining and testing knowledge in a collective struggle for truth. Individual forms of imagination are connected to the concrete and the theoretical.

6. Emphasis on the concrete, on practice, on the immediate, should not overwhelm the necessity of theory-which answers the question: Why do this? Theory sets up what is observed. Theory is refined by tests in social practice-which only deepen theory and offer more theoretical problems. Exposing the interaction of theory and practice (Praxis) is vital in every learning situation. This process moves knowledge from superficial appearances to essence--though understanding appearances are significant.

7. Gateways to learning include affect, surroundings, and modes of literacy. Reliance on fear and external rewards are the methods of tyranny, rupturing honesty-and trust. Those who practice regimentation in the name of freedom do not understand, or value, freedom. Freedom is not the absence of self-discipline.

8. Intellectual work is also practical work. It should matter. The message: What we do counts. We can comprehend and change the world.

9. Study in depth is superior to a quick, sidelong glance at everything.

10. So, where do your methods come from?

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