Lonergan Forum

Main Forum Topics => General => Topic started by: Brett Rangiira on August 30, 2012, 07:13:24 AM

Title: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: Brett Rangiira on August 30, 2012, 07:13:24 AM
I would like to explore the notion of 'method in pedagogy'. Now my understanding of pedagogy is 'the ability to help someone learn'. I think there are two aspects to this. First is the process of pedagogical learning, where from a teacher's experience of students - who they are, their learning ability, interests, personality; and of the curriculum; and of pedagogical principles (statements of how students learn best) - we seek insights into optimising learning for a particular group of students, and from this understanding, knowledge. There are then 'questions for deliberation': what should I do to help each student learn to the best of his or her ability?

Second, I think of planning, teaching, assessing and reporting as intergated pedagogical processes. Perhaps these are functional specialities for pedagogy? Planning involves clarifying who the students are, what they need to learn, how best to help them learn; designing (the question for deliberation: what should I do to help each student learn?' which is a synthesis of curriculum, pedagogical principles, and resources to generate teaching and learning experiences). Teaching involves engaging the students; weaving through the teaching and learning experiences; reflecting on these experiences. Assessing involves observing, judging, recording. Reporting involves summarising, explaning, communicating.

Is anyone else thinking along these lines and would like to share ideas?


Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: B. Tillman Russell on August 30, 2012, 09:10:37 PM
Very interesting post. I have also attempted to think through some of these issues from the perspective of persuasion and decision-making processes. I have found that the information processing model utilized in certain research areas within cognitive psychology can be a helpful heuristic model for understanding how a subject has insights on various levels of the learning process. I am not completely certain, but I think that a 'method in pedagogy' would do well to engage the information processing model in psych, integrating its insights with those offered by the functional specialties in Method. It seems to me that that would be a very fruitful move towards developing a 'method in pedagogy' on the scale that you are suggesting.
Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: Brett Rangiira on September 02, 2012, 02:17:44 PM
Thanks for this reply and for the suggestion of psych information processing models. I will explore this area during this coming month.

I believe that a teacher's self appropriation is the foundation of pedagogy - my acknowledgment and appropriation of myself as knower, as believer, as learner, is my proper initiation into pedagogy, i.e. my ability to help someone else learn. I believe that there are implications for teacher education courses, and that all teachers in catholic education should encounter Insight and work though this process in their undergraduate studies. After all, Insight itself is a pedagogical process.

I am also surprised that most Catholic Education Offices around Australia at least (maybe it is different elsewhere) do not seem to have embraced Lonergan's work as a foundation for the education initiatives in their respective jurisdictions. From what I can see, much of what is being sought elsewhere, often in fractured bits from different schools of thought, is in Lonergan's work and coherent, comprehensive and rigorous. Here we have a coherent cognitional theory, an epistemology, a metaphysics, an ethics and the foundations for a theology grounded in insights arising from 'God's love flooding our hearts'. Seems perfect for Catholic education. How do we get this on the horizon for our educational leaders?
Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: mounce on October 27, 2012, 08:14:38 PM
This site is as good-as-you-get when it comes to pedagogy in education.  There's a book compilation, but the heart is available  here...


Title: Re: Lonergan in Education
Post by: Catherine B. King on October 28, 2012, 10:39:03 AM
Hi Doug:  I am updating the below note after having re-read your note. Actually, the blog post is to the book as talking about self-appropriation is to actually going through the process.  Here's my original note:

Hello Doug:  (Glad to see an "old" friend here.)   But I wanted to thank you for posting my blog from 2006 in your note, but also to update--that is, since then I have published "Finding the Mind: Pedagogy for Verifying Cognitional Theory" (2011/www.universitypress.com).  Also, I have been told that the introduction and preface are too long, but neither needs to be read to understand the basic pedagogy.

Some specifics: For you and others who are interested, I wrote the work as basic curricula for teacher education/ departments, but hope that whoever goes by the mysterious name of  "general reader" won't find it too obscure for their liking. 

Also, since the blog format, I found googledocs; and so you can find an introduction to this work written for (1) those who have some acquaintance with Lonergan's work and (2) those who are new to that work, and to philosophical study as such.  I have posted those links to the introductions below. Also, one of the links has a list of other links that are appendixes to the above work.

Of course I would appreciate and welcome any discussion about pedagogy of Lonergan's work and especially where education is concerned--many are involved as we speak in forwarding his work but, as others have suggested here, we need to do much more. 

Online Introduction w/preface for non-Longeran readers:
 for those familiar with Lonergan’s work:

For links to all appendixes, go to:



Online addresses:  www.findingthemindappendixes.blogspot.com
                              See other links on publisher’s webpage.
Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: Brett Rangiira on October 31, 2012, 04:39:52 PM
Thanks Catherine. I work in system leadership in Catholic education. Much of our work at present is in teacher professional development. I am interested in your ideas, and I intend to acquire and read your book in the near future. We have Transcendental Method at the centre of our Diocesan Learning Framework, so your ideas around teacher education may well find a home in our systemic initiatives. Regards, Brett.
Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 11, 2012, 07:59:39 PM
Hi Catherine,

Your two prefaces are an inspiration for me.  I'm not going to comment on some of the specific things that I liked, at least not now (it's getting late, and I have an 8:00 class tomorrow morning).  I have been working on an online introductory sociology text, that will take students on what you call "the shorter journey" in the context of learning the basic structure of sociology.  What I envision will be based as much on the thought of Michael Polanyi as on that of Lonergan, but I agree with Richard Gelwick, in The Way of Discovery (1977), that the publication of Insight in 1957 and Polanyi's Personal Knowledge in 1958 indicates a remarkable independent convergence in two philosophers with very different backgrounds (pp. 135-6). 

Best regards,

Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: dnordquest on November 10, 2013, 04:43:59 PM
Hi Catherine,

Is there any evidence yet on how Lonergan or an emphasis on insights or self-appropriation might improve pre-collegiate education?  I would suppose that those influenced by your book or, perhaps, by seminars you have given might by now have reported their results.  I would think that the improvements could be rather dramatic.

Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 12, 2013, 06:40:14 AM
Hi David,

I can't, of course, answer for Catherine, but I have some thoughts about your question.  There is some very good evidence that praising children for working hard improves their performance in school, and that praising them for being smart makes them less willing to tackle things they find difficult (they don't want to tarnish their image of being smart).  This is a corrective to the widely held dogma that praising children enhances self-esteem.  Of course, self-esteem is not the same as self-appropriation, but there is a family resemblance. 

A number of folks have said that self-appropriation is rare even among college students.  Even though he does not cite Lonergan, Perry's work on intellectual and moral development in the college years strongly suggests this. It would seem to follow that it will be only a minority of elementary and secondary school teachers who have achieved self-appropriation.  Would it not follow that only a minority of pre-college teachers would know how even to make fostering self-appropriation in their students a goal of their teaching?  If they haven't been there, why would they want to help their students get there?

Best regards,

Title: Re: Lonergan in Education
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 12, 2013, 11:00:16 AM
Hello David and Dick:

I think Dick is right about the “family resemblance” between self-esteem and self-appropriation.  On the other hand, there are rafts of differences rooted in this:  while self-esteem is psychological, self-appropriation/affirmation is philosophical, with a transformative-psychological component. While self-esteem assumes a basic structure and set of principles and functions that concern philosophical meaning (it works out of that structure and cannot do otherwise); self-appropriation/affirmation brings those to consciousness; and, through Lonergan’s work, with theoretical clarity. It’s clarity in a person’s consciousness is a part of what it means to have achieved it.

There are, of course, some artistics associated with it and that go far in providing avenues for growth and depth in self-understanding. However, I'll ask you:  what is the state of art (or history, or any liberal studies, or self-reflection as such) in education today?   It's critical clarity and repeatable overt verification, with full philosophical import, that at least offers to heal the breach between the arts and "soft and hard" sciences?

As suggested above, however, the process also includes a clear theoretical component—important if not necessary in today’s philosophical climate; that is, considering (the mess of) post-scientific/revolutionary and 20th century philosophical thought. That is, it’s not only about our philosophical development, but also that we have to revisit what we have inherited in the philosophical air up to now, both personally and in all of the fields. So that self-corrective as well as development is essential to the project—all that to be done through serious (and hopefully well-guided) philosophical self-reflection (not only psychological).

So Dick—from having read my book, you can probably see the differences emerge above between the shorter and longer journeys. Of course there is a self-esteem element here (family resemblance) and even Plato talks about philosophy as therapy. However, one's self-esteem is surrounded by and penetrated with a depth of meaning (philosophical et al) that takes us far beyond the merely psychological. 

Also, the appearance in history of the critical clarity of theoretical meaning marks a great divide in teaching to self-appropriation/affirmation in K-12 teachers. (My work is to bring it to teacher education in secular institutions--not there yet, however.) That appearance though, unfortunately, also brings the potential for remaining in several of the counter-positions and related misconceptions on the part of those trying to understand it.  That is, It's "just another theory." But of course, it's not.

Nevertheless, it’s not about the theory but about the reality of the human interior life qua philosophical, i.e., its basic structure and concretely-expressed inter-penetrative principles.  As such, my observations of K-12 teachers tell me two things.  First, being on the front-lines, as it were, of teaching, namely, to children who are philosophically undeveloped but also un-poisoned, they (teachers) commonly recognize the significance of question-raising and when insights have actually occurred in their students, in their language, the “aha! experiences” that occur in several aspects of learning.  My evidence is not very broad here, but my experience is that most if not all teachers are at least resonantly aware when their teaching, specific curricula and, more broadly, their programming, strays from what they know, in resonant fashion, is the right way to go about things. Though none (in my experience) can articulate the full philosophical (technical-theoretical) meaning of what their resonance is based in, it IS based in the philosophical reality that they and their students already are, and that the theory articulates so well, and calls us to self-reflection in order to understand ourselves.

Second, though many (what I would call) recoveries are going forward in education presently (a good paper project), not much if any is reflectively and self-reflectively philosophical, or rooted in good theoretical and, thus, critical practice,  much less established theory in institutions.  "We" are still struggling with that.(Lonergan’s stuff is worldwide in many institutions, so there is possibly something out there that I haven’t seen yet.). From what I can tell, however, and even though we’ve gone through several changes since he wrote, Lonergan’s take on the philosophical situation still holds—it was both broad and concrete enough to do that. 

Also, to David, it gives me great pleasure, for the moment, to see that someone has recognized the potential of the whole project for education. My own work (Finding the Mind) is an appeal to the verification expectations of the positivist/scientist and naïve realist (it’s harder to deal with the idealist), but with the severe implications of the actual interior order. My charge was to write something that would play well in the secular academy and provide outer verity for the inner dynamic structure--that can be located in the outer expressions of anyone who takes on the project.

I would love to do seminars for teachers or a pilot project and, in the end, have a group of teachers who work explicitly on developing formal age-related curricula for K-12 programming. (It could be developed to include notions of self-esteem.) We haven’t gotten there yet—I’ve had some bites; but (I’m guessing) apparently the book is still too complex--and I know it flies in the face, from the get-go, of many current philosophical comportments--just the idea of finding the mind.     

I haven’t addressed all of the questions that are embedded in your notes, but I’ve gone too long now.  To Dick, however:  I have thought many times about an earlier comment you made about your students’ disappointed reaction to the idea of a longer and shorter journey, where they were only involved in the shorter (from the text). One thing that might be suggested to them is that the assumption in this division is that they can look forward to lots of delightful insights, deepening experiences, and even internal transformations in their lifetime of formal and informal education, considering that they are open to it. Also, there is evidence in Piscitelli’s work for your assertion that students can actually close down from having been praised though as you know, at the individual level, not much if anything is totally predictable.

I appreciate the dialogue, 

Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: dnordquest on November 13, 2013, 09:00:20 AM
Hello Dick and Catherine,

I found your postings most helpful.  Thanks very much indeed.

I would certainly love to have Catherine run a workshop for area teachers here at Gannon.  It would be interesting to see what the results might be. I'll have to check with David Fleishacker, who is Director of the Lonergan Institute in DC and directs an online seminar I attend, to see what his collaboration with Phyllis Wallbank involved and what the results may have been there.  It may have been based on Montessori more than Lonergan.

I would think that the crucial moment in self-appropriation -- recognizing the need for and role of intelligent grasp and reasonable affirmation -- is within the potential of many secondary school teachers and students, but really having the "startling strangeness" hit you may be more difficult than I suppose.


Title: Re: Lonergan in Education
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 13, 2013, 11:11:34 AM
Hello David:

You say:   

"I would think that the crucial moment in self-appropriation -- recognizing the need for and role of intelligent grasp and reasonable affirmation -- is within the potential of many secondary school teachers and students, but really having the 'startling strangeness' hit you may be more difficult than I suppose."

Yes—exactly. A couple of things:

First, the “difficulty” of teaching for the ‘startling strangeness’ to occur, and especially in a one- or two-course setting at a community college (teaching philosophy and ethics) is what inspired my ten-year journey in writing my “Finding” text. Somewhere at the 7-year mark it occurred to me (Aha!) that, in fact, the process had to be systematically differentiated; that is, IF I were to come within range of gaining the attention of my students’ extroverted consciousness, e.g., positivist and naïve realist, in a short period of time; hence, the division of the shorter and longer journeys and the identity of the mind’s structure in anyone’s outer expressions. 

Second, some of the blocks to even being willing to explore introspection as a critical affair, not to mention as a beginning for establishing a critical epistemology/ontology, are truly “blocks.” That is, we cannot even go-there for many students and in the fields without abandoning, at the get-go, any notion of critical scientific method (ironic as this is) or without assuming a religious stance at the beginning (Lonergan is a “cult” or “religious” philosopher.)  I wrote the book and developed the “shorter journey,” then, with this audience in mind—again, to appeal to the kind of evidence that might excite the interest of, for instance, extroverted students and neuroscientists—without yet calling for introspection (nada, at least at first) or just giving an ungrounded (to them) cognitional theory (“just another theory” that cannot be grounded, on principle).

The rationale for this division is set out in the “First Things First” paper I gave at Loyola in LA last April (see link below) and other online introductions to the text (see above note here). The part that speaks to your note directly is in the “First” paper at the section headed by: Extroversion:  Knowing as Equated to Looking, circa page 9.  See particularly the three kinds of teaching avenues/methods in that section.

Third, there is a built-in conflict with (a) encouraging the “startling strangeness” to occur and (b) curriculum development (see the last parts of the First Things First paper on this).  Can you imagine testing for such an occurrence?  The occurrence is a foundational insight, which means that it is not merely referential (a concept or merely a logical concern) but is also constitutive—it transforms our constitution reaching into our internal imagery and even our physics/feelings; influencing the way we “see” ourselves and everything else in the world.

In terms of curriculum development, however, like any insight, it’s not on a knowable timetable (the least of the problem for systematic pedagogy); it can occur at any time and probably is experienced differently by different people precisely because it is concrete and affects everyone’s (different) concrete content-interests. And then not everyone follows through to take up the theoretical development in epistemology (in Insight)—which locks the whole process in as not only appropriation, but also critically established affirmation.

Fourth, so if the occurrence is not something we can guarantee or teach to a test for, the question for curricula development becomes: How best to prepare for such an occurrence, or to lay the groundwork optimally?   

For teachers who are amenable to introspection, the pedagogy in “Finding” is probably, and in some sense, superfluous--for movements in their own development and self-correction.

The value to teachers of this “third” pedagogy in "Finding," however--and I cannot stress this enough--is that it draws on the first (clear theory development); gives inference for the second (guided introspection); while focusing on offering critical, repeatable theory verification as applied to anyone’s outer language expressions. By doing so, this third pedagogy gives the teacher pedagogical power rooted in scientific method applied to outer data; which is more likely to be acceptable to administrators, parents, and others who would see introspection or religious foundations as automatically uncritical and not worthy of their notions of object-oriented curriculum development.

To your oh-so-right comment about the “startling” experience, the theoretical generality grounded in the evidence of all external language expressions is highly suggestive of an interior order that cannot be seen, but that constantly penetrates to the concrete in all outer language expressions. In doing so, it at least brings the extrovert to the open door of that startling experience by way of his/her presently accepted (extroverted) foundations.

The “shorter journey” (the experimental pedagogy in the book) gives the teacher the power of integrating critical verity of the basic structure of the mind into secular and/or religious curricula without necessarily or yet relying on (a) introspection or (b) good religious foundations (or believing Lonergan because he was a Jesuit). That’s the value for teachers who might already be intellectually converted. From that basic establishment via empirical method, other questions can flow where, before, the philosophical blocks prevented that flow.


First Things First paper:

Title: Re: Lonergan in Eduation
Post by: dnordquest on November 14, 2013, 02:08:40 PM
Hi Catherine,

Many thanks for the very helpful comments and for the link.  I appreciate the light you cast on the shorter and the longer journey and on their relation, especially on how the former may facilitate the latter.