After completing Nelson’s essay, I couldn’t help but hone in on the small section about big and small approaches. I think it especially tied in to my previous post which questioned the futility or usefulness of curriculum division and task specialization. I am wondering if the “Piecemeal” approach, or correct me if I am wrong in making this connection, the “Bottom-up” approach, assists in the extreme division that seems to take place in our minds more and more as we progress through the education system. It seems to me that this approach focuses on the “knitty-gritty” too much and too fast. I can make no sense out of the idea that to teach a subject, the teacher should start with the small and complex details; to me, that sounds a lot like skipping a step. The “Big Picture” approach, which is perhaps synonymous with the “Top-down” approach” comes across as much more logical; seeing an overview first and then starting with the subsystems that are semi-familiar sounds like a more sensible way of learning.
Just as Nelson said, the importance of the differences between these approaches is the epitome of “McLuhanism” and his idea that “the medium is the message.” The way the “content” is presented to the student expands or limits the destiny of that specific content. By destiny I mean, if the information is actually retained and relayed to others or if it takes the typical route of “in one ear and out the other.” Isn’t that the purpose of an education? Aren’t students supposed to absorb all this knowledge that is being thrown at them in order to “spread the wealth” in the future, whether it be in passing conversation or in their field of work? When knowledge is shared, various points of view are formed. Discussion and the sharing of ideas makes the world a better place to live in because it creates balance. If content is being shared in a fundamentally-wrong way, starting in the classroom, then society as a whole will suffer. Maybe we are suffering right now. Maybe the way in which approaches to teaching subjects are having an effect on the way people in different occupations share their knowledge.
I might be bouncing all over the place here but I truly believe that Big and Small Approaches, McLuhanism, and mind divisions which occur in schools and jobs all tie together. I didn’t even realize how interrelated these topics were until I started typing this blog post. It is amazing to see how useful this blog is becoming, as it provides a MEDIUM for me to reflect on the assigned readings.