Science & Education 26 (5):529-556 (2017)

Abstract
Environments of learning often remain unnoticed and unacknowledged. This study follows a student and myself as we became aware of our local environment at MIT and welcomed that environment as a vibrant contributor to our learning. We met this environment in part through its educational heritage in two centennial anniversaries: John Dewey’s 1916 work Democracy and Education and MIT’s 1916 move from Boston to the Cambridge campus designed by architect William Welles Bosworth. Dewey argued that for learning to arise through constructive, active engagement among students, the environment must be structured to accommodate investigation. In designing an environment conducive to practical and inventive studies, Bosworth created organic classical forms harboring the illusion of symmetry, while actually departing from it. Students and I are made open to the effects of this environment through the research pedagogy of “critical exploration in the classroom,” which informs my practice of listening and responding, and teaching while researching; it lays fertile grounds for the involvement of one student and myself with our environment. Through viewing the moon and sky by eye, telescope, airplane, and astrolabe, the student developed as an observer. She became connected with the larger universe, and critical of formalisms that encage mind and space. Applying Euclid’s geometry to the architecture outdoors, the student noticed and questioned classical features in Bosworth’s buildings. By encountering these buildings while accompanied by their current restorer, we came to see means by which their structure and design promote human interaction and environmental sustainability as intrinsic to education. The student responded creatively to Bosworth’s buildings through photography, learning view-camera, and darkroom techniques. In Dewey’s view, democracy entails rejecting dualisms endemic in academic culture since the Greek classical era. Dewey regarded experimental science, where learners are investigators, as a means of engaging the world without invoking dualism. Although Dewey’s theory is seldom practiced, our investigations cohered with Deweyan practice. We experienced the environment with its centennial philosophy and architecture as educational agency supportive of investigation that continues to evolve across personal and collective history.
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DOI 10.1007/s11191-017-9910-6
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The Child's Conception of the World.Jean Piaget - 1929 - Journal of Philosophical Studies 4 (15):422-424.

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