Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Can be Taught?

Strange that we don't ask this question before we begin to teach, but what is it that can be taught?

Skills can be taught. That seems uncontroversial. But what else?

As a teacher of critical thinking, can people be taught to be rational? As an ethics teacher, can people be taught to be good? to be empathetic? to be caring? Can you be taught to find great art beautiful? Can you teach someone to be creative? You could teach them new techniques to channel their creativity by, say, teaching them the form of a sonnet, but can you teach someone to be more creative than they were before the lessons? You can teach someone to play an instrument, but can you teach them to play with with feeling or soul?

What can and cannot be taught?