[iDC] how to open up education

Paul Prueitt psp at ontologystream.com
Sat Jun 19 13:03:31 UTC 2010

On Jun 19, 2010, at 7:09 AM, Stephen Downes <stephen at downes.ca>t wrote:

>> We don't (as we all know, right?) consume an education, but our
>> education system has become based on the model of consumption, so  
>> much so
>> that even the critics of it can articulate only about how hard it  
>> is to
>> create the consumable.
>> This is why we - George and I and David and Alec and Dave and  
>> others - are
>> working on opening up education. Not because we think it will  
>> reduce the
>> cost of the consumable to zero, not because we think we can  
>> package and
>> deliver an education more cheaply and more efficiently, but  
>> because we
>> understand that, unless an education is open, unless it's  
>> precisely *not* a
>> consumable, it's not an education at all. And while *this*  
>> observation, that
>> education is not a consumable, is hardly new or unique, our  
>> approach to it
>> appears to have been (though you know if you go back into the  
>> history of
>> education you can find a great deal about self-organizing learning
>> communities and the pedagogies based on such models).

In The Education Bridge, www.educationWorlds.com/bridge.pdf the  
notion of induction is developed, along with the related notions of  
non-locality and emergence.

A thesis is framed.  Our educational system is an induction machine.

This induction is backward looking and centered on serving the supply  
system.  It is not anticipatory, and thus the education system does  
not have the properties of an intelligent system.  There is a denial  
that individuals have unique qualities.  It is within these unique  
qualities that one sees "intelligence".

We trace this limited systemic nature of the current educational  
philosophy to Dewey, Darwin and Newton.  We see education is being  
anti-democratic in its practice and consequences.  It carries the  
"big lie", that the physical universe is deterministic.  This lie  
then allows a few to pretend as if they are in control.  It, the  
educational system, has the nature of a fundamentalism.  It, the  
educational system, is hijacking the democracy.  it does this while  
also providing us with great benefits.

The distinction is then made that there is a supply mechanism called  
advertising which allows supply to control demand.  The systematic  
violation of the individual is then enabled.

Part of the hijacking of the intention of the individual by these  
mechanisms requires our citizens to be ignorant about the nature of  
individual self.  The action-perception cycle is interrupted to such  
an extent that the individual (sometimes) becomes incapable of  
understanding the self.

We give up the self so as to be a participant in a consumer based  
social structure. The educational system assists us in giving up our  
expectation that intention be expressed in a pure form.  In fact we  
are taught that intention is necessarily evil, unless shaped by the  
supply side.  This "teaching" is part of the fundamentalism.   The  
media and our literatures goes to great lengths to given evidence to  
this assertion about individual intent.  We are fed a continuous  
supply of evidence as to our unworthiness.  We accommodate this  
feeding as we become ever more incapable.    This process is one that  
must eventually reach the point of absolute absurdity.

Maybe we are now "here".  Maybe it is time to turn the corner and  
evolve in the opposite direction, to re-establish the concept of  
governance by the People and also to not over react.  Might we reform  
without extreme reaction?

The Education Bridge makes the proposal that teaching using supply  
side methodology creates acquired learning disabilities, specific at  
first (1950-1990) to mathematics and science, but now non-specific.   
The entering freshman are rejecting the very notion of learning  
anything.  They wish to just graduate with the credentials that allow  
them to earn a living and consume.  We pretend to teach and they  
pretend to learn.

We move away fro the notion of a meritocracy. The remediation to this  
trend is also proposed.

The remediation is to develop Socratic,constructivist and  
participatory pedagogy that asks the individual student to demand  
specific topics to be discussed, rather than to be forced to consume  
the material in a specific order and using a very rigid syllabus.  If  
the demand is from a desire to understand self, then this demand will  
lead to capacity to serve self and others.

>> how hard it is to
>> create the consumable.

The Education Bridge suggests that we no longer create a regime of  
consumables that are forced on the student, but rather develop a set  
of focus topics, the complete set of which would be the  
"curriculum".  There is guidance, not all notions of "supply" are  
lost!   The framework for curriculums is provided, but choices are  

We then allow students to select which of these consumables he or she  
wishes to internalize and then to re-express.  The re-expression  
involves an induction, the localization of non-locality and the  
emergence of creativity.   The methods that might support this  
"demand pedagogy" are illustrated in the Bridge.

The objective we may choose to share is to balance a system that is  
now 95% supply side and create a system where a 50-50 balance between  
supply and the aggregated pure intent of individuals.  How is this  
aggregation to occur, so that we as a society anticipate the future?   
The answers we give are surprising at first.

We would be pleased if this list would focus on this proposal, as  
stated at www.educationWorlds.com.

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