How can wikis improve the "formation of souls"?

In a platonic sense, education = “forming” souls. In the Republic, individuals with quality “soul formations” (educations) are empowered to lead lives of virtue within the republic. Being clear about a republic’s goals will help educators minister more conscientiously to public needs.

Diane Ravitch lays out the desired features of the soul-shaped, educated young person:

In light of the fact that we live in skeptical if not a disillusioned era, and, on the best available evidence, those most cynical about our civic prospects are the young, it is a task of critical importance to civil society that we do all that we do all that we can to form sturdy, caring, involved young people…

Forming “sturdy, caring, involved” young people: exactly what good interactive, collaborative wiki-work can bring them.

One of the most important 21st c. skills for children is the ability to tolerate otherness, negotiate differences, solve problems collectively, and work collaboratively beyond self interest to achieve common ends. Only team players, and they alone, it seems, will succeed in the 21st century game.

In my experience helping students with web 2.0 apps, the public dimension of the work–the fact that they know work will have a world wide audience–helps keep them striving for improvement. Team members listen and speak, give and take in order for everyone in the community to share in the republic’s yield.
“>Ravitch agrees, claiming that our “democratic country is dependent… on [the individual’s sense of] responsibility and [practice of] self-limiting freedom.”

In at least one student collaborative project, the nascent “Popularity Timeline,” I have seen students responsibly post and receive criticism on the qualities of their work. A reflexive, formative dialog is going on among them. My role is not gatekeeper so much as recording secretary, helping ensure student voices in the conversation. By themselves, without being explicitly guided to do so, students help “form” each other’s “souls,” and in doing so, they help to “form” their own in the diretion of virtue.

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