[iDC] Discussion: The Edupunks' Guide

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Tue Aug 9 01:31:02 UTC 2011

On 8-Aug-11, at 2:34 PM, Simon Biggs wrote:

> I will sustain my question concerning how the model Anya proposes  
> goes beyond the instrumental (satisfying the immediate learning  
> needs of the student) and offers a means to build the sophisticated  
> and large scale knowledge making platform we require on a planet as  
> large and diverse as ours. I do not see this in her argument. If  
> Anya's model was generally implemented I think we would be looking  
> at a regressive situation. In this respect I think her proposal is  
> well motivated but naive.

Hi Simon,

it is in my opinion gravely naive on your part to assume that on a  
planet as large and diverse as ours we 'require' the sophisticated  
and large scale knowledge making platform that is 'academic  
research'. On the contrary, in light of Fukushima and the global  
climate cataclysm and the overall assault on our bio-diversity being  
driven by PhDs in and out of university, it should be clear that  
radical changes are required to save us from an unsustainable  
economic infrastructure fuelled by the very research culture you  
champion. Not that very useful work isn't being done. But useful -  
ultimately - to whom?

You mentioned Peter Higgs and his work on the 'boson'. Now, I do not  
know the man personally, much less anything substantial about  
theoretical physics. He is obviously quite brilliant and he may also  
be an absolutely great guy. But I do note on his wikipedia page the  

"Higgs was a CND activist while in London and later in Edinburgh, but  
resigned his membership when the group extended its remit from  
campaigning against nuclear weapons to campaigning against nuclear  
power too. He was a Greenpeace member until the group opposed  
genetically modified organisms."

It is a free world (for some of us) and Peter Higgs can think what he  
likes. But by the same token it is my opinion that blind and  
unwarranted faith in the 'need' for genetically modified foods and  
nuclear power is the blind spot in 'your' model, Simon. And given the  
choice between the two pedagogies under consideration - and taking  
into account the almost certain knowledge that sooner rather than  
later the well-educated TEPCOs and Monsantos of the world are going  
to do us all in - I prefer to take my chances with the alternative in  
the rather desperate hope that there may be time to change a few  
things that matter before it is too late.


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