By P.A. Payutto

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2 THE BACKGROUND OF DISTANCE EDUCATION Distance education is neither an isolated concept, nor in its practice an isolated creation. It is education of a special type, like all types of education dependent on and influenced by values, opinions, experience and external conditions. While it is different from conventional schooling and has so many characteristics of its own that as an academic area of study it may be regarded as a discipline in its own right (see Chapter 11), its basis is general educational thinking and experience.

As the purpose of teaching is learning, and the basic assumption (theory) behind teaching is that it causes or facilitates learning, what has been said is tantamount to querying the impact of theory, or at least its dominating influence, on practice in this context. As a rule, teaching intent is not regarded as theory, however. On the contrary, there are theories prescribing what teaching should be like, 24 BACKGROUND OF DISTANCE EDUCATION under what circumstance and how it should be provided. The question is to what extent logico-deductive theories are immediately applicable to teaching practice.

Distance teaching and learning, like any kind of teaching and learning, can serve different ends. It makes little sense on the basis of purposes to distinguish between education proper and training of certain skills (Wedemeyer 1981). Any learning can be an educational experience. e. above all, adults with social, professional and family commitments. Learning implies more than acquisition of knowledge, for example, abstracting meaning from complicated presentations and interpreting phenomena and contexts;’ [it] is the process of transforming experience into knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, senses and emotions’ (Jarvis 1993:180).

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Buddhism and Education by P.A. Payutto

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