Thursday, 26 January 2012

Mystery educational philosopher

All these quotes are from the same thinker, someone I didn't realise had written about education.  I will shortly be posting a review of the book I discovered them in.  Can you recognise the author?

I may be wrong, and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.

We do not discover new facts or new effects by copying them, or by inferring them inductively from observation, or by any other method of instruction by the environment.

(Picture by Chris Bradey)

We learn only through trial and error.  Our trials....are always our hypotheses.  They stem from us, not from the external world.  All we learn from the external world is that some of our efforts are mistaken.

The process of learning, of the growth of subjective knowledge, is always fundamentally the same.  It is imaginative criticism.

Institutions for the selection of the outstanding can hardly be devised.  Institutional selection may work quite well for such purposes as Plato had in mind, namely for arresting change.  But it will never work well if we demand more than that, for it will always tend to eliminate initiative and originality, and, more generally, qualities which are unusual and unexpected.  It has been said, only too truly, that Plato was the inventor of both our secondary schools and our universities.  I do not know a better argument for an optimistic view of mankind, no better proof of their indestructible love for truth and decency, of their originality and stubbornness and health, than the fact that this devastating system of education has not utterly ruined them.

There are no subject matters, no branches of learning - or rather, of inquiry: there are only problems, and the urge to solve them.

If I thought of a future, I dreamt of one day founding a school in which young people could learn without boredom, and would be stimulated to pose problems and discuss them; a school in which no unwanted answers to unasked questions would have to be listened to; in which one did not study for the sake of passing examinations.

[If] we produce many competing ideas, and criticise them severely, we may, if we are lucky, get nearer to the truth.  This method is the method of conjectures and refutations: it is the method of taking many risks, by producing many (competing) hypotheses; of making many mistakes; and of trying to correct or eliminate some of these mistakes by a critical discussion of the competing hypotheses.

Does this last one give it away?

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