Monday, January 18, 2010

Critical Thinking in Astrology

I have visited this subject several times in these public forums - here, and on You Tube, but I am very concerned about the way that astrology is taught.

One of the effects of the fact that astrological education is ad-hoc, is that many extremely well-meaning people have taught it over the years. Enthusiasm may be necessary for good teaching, but it does not make a good teacher by itself. Many people who have taught astrology for years, but had no formal training in education themselves, have adopted the general idea - simplify the concepts, then have everybody do their own charts, and watch the ah ha! moments accumulate. Then follow this up with continued work with everybody's transits or progressions, family or famous, and therein lies an astrological education.

Sadly, no. What this method of teaching conveys to 90% of the attendees is that astrology "works" - but that wasn't in question! The problem is: much as people find their own charts and those of nearest and dearest compelling, this does not provide systematic training. It's like the lab in a biology course without the lecture part - no theoretical framework to hang it on. I may be known for giving a lot of practical examples in my own teaching, but you cannot do the examples without providing a coherent system to go with them - because every chart is different, and then people don't know how to apply your methods to the unknown chart.

A good teacher has to understand curriculum as well as how to approach a chart. There was a considerable trend in the 70s and 80s to simplify the astrological vocabulary. This trend originated primarily out of the work of a very few teachers who had taken on the job of teaching astrology from the ground up to groups of people who could best be described as of New Age persuasion - all in the course of a long weekend or a week.

Now let's be honest: you cannot really learn astrology that way. You can learn a few rudiments. But these ideas were being presented as full systems. As full systems, these had the potency of a fifth of scotch thrown into a reservoir. Nobody's getting drunk on that!

Why did this happen? Well - among other things, my experience as a teacher of biology, martial arts and astrology over forty-somthing years tells me that Americans hate to memorize. So if learning is going to be "fun," just take the memorization out! You're then left with people who have oversimplified concepts, and some cookbooks at home that they use to look up a reading. These people are not success stories in the realm of astrology.

Learning astrology is hard: but it doesn't have to be made harder by inappropriate teaching. Good teaching doesn't leave out the memorization: but then, it has to teach how to logically and systematically engage the concepts and derive a meaning by logical application of those concepts as they relate to the circumstances at hand, which themselves are also analyzed.

This is the key. But it must be applied rigorously.


Wendy said...

So what are you saying is missing from astrology teaching exactly?

kelstar said...

here, here Lee! Great comments - students aren't stupid and getting them to think is one of the most critical jobs of a teacher in any field. It might not be easy, but skills are built with time and practice.

台中 said...

No pains, no gains..........................