D is for Dogma

| April 3, 2014
1. Dogma can be described as a belief or set of beliefs that one finds absolutely and unquestionably true. The truthfulness of the beliefs is not open for debate and if a dogmatic participant enters a debate one typically finds the debate to be fruitless, as the dogmatic individual refuses to accept any other belief systems other than his/her own.
2. One of the most popular places we find dogma is in religion. The dogma of any religion is one of its most unattractive aspects.
3. Dogma also makes its way into education quite easily. One forms beliefs about how a person should be taught or will be taught and finds ways to make sure that this belief system is upheld. A teacher’s belief in some sort of educational dogma, even if you might agree with the stance taken, is going to harm the education of the students.
4. One could say that the goal of education is to free learners from dogmatism. This seems to be inherent in the definition of education. Education is a process that requires learners to question and challenge ideas and beliefs they once held as true. The release of dogma is one of education’s primary goals, if not the primary goal.
5. If a teacher subscribes to a dogmatic belief in the way the students should be educated, how can one expect the students to free themselves from their own dogmas?
6. But if one were to subscribe to a belief that one should hold no dogma, is this not a dogmatic belief in itself? To say, “Dogma should be banished” is to promote a dogmatic belief about the banishment of dogma. How do we work around this?
7. By being constantly critical of one’s values and beliefs, one can at least approach a life in which dogma is not present. Education as a process and a cycle, unending, must be adopted in order to free ourselves from the rut of dogma.
8. Bertrand Russell (the handsome man pictured below) states, “Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom.” The same could be said of education. To free learners from “the tyranny of custom,” the world one creates in order to make sense of living. Education should challenge this creation and allow learners to find new ways of engaging with the world they inhabit.