Tag Archives: Allen

Curiosity and diversity

Upon watching a Ted Talk hosted by Ken Robinson, I was further convinced that the current form of education is broken and must be fixed. The current system implores the banking system, which Robinson would surely find ineffective. Robinson talks about the driving principals of human beings: diversity and curiosity.

When Robinson says diversity, he is referring to both humans and the education system. It is true that not all are alike, even within families. As a result, how can there only be one way of teaching? It is rare that the banking system fits perfectly for the learning style of a student, and even rarer that it works for all student. We must diversify the way that we teach students, as one method may be better for one student than the other. Continue reading

holistic learning

One of the most provocative idea presented in this text is early in chapter
system promote the process of critical thinking, as it now promotes the cramming of information.

Any study will show you that the retention rate for memorization vs. true understanding is vast. As I read this part of the text and the article, I thought of a commercial that aired a while ago. It
was a Sullivan tutoring commercial where it showed a kid shaking out his ears, and, instead of water flowing from them, it was knowledge seeping out. It then states a statistic that students lose 70% of the knowledge that they learned over the summer. Continue reading

The similarities between Dewey and Rousseau

Throughout the reading, I noticed many similarities in how children should be educated between Dewey and Rousseau. The idea of a child experiencing what he is learning is something that can help in the development of the child’s knowledge. However, Dewey believes that not all experiences are equally educative, and some experiences can even damage the child’s understanding. On page 25, Dewey states that “Any experience is mis-educative that has the effect of arresting or distorting the growth of further experience.”(25) Rousseasu has similar ideas regarding experience. Rousseau gives the example of the ice feeling hot on Emile’s lip and the seemingly broken stick in the water of how experiences that can deceive us. But, experiences can solidify one’s knowledge. When Rousseau takes Emile to observe the sun set and the sun rise, Emile is able to eventually understand the concept. This is a case where experience is beneficial to education.

Dewey believes that without the probable application of education to the real world, students become disinterested in the material. So, I believe that Dewey would appreciate the aspect of Emile’s education where Emile interacts with real objects, and uses prior knowledge to try and deduce a solution. An example of that would be Emile learning about magnetism. Rousseau and Emile would gather stones, some being magnetic, and see which ones stuck. Through this, Emile was able to apply knowledge in a real situation when they were at the fair. Emile became overjoyed about what he learned and was excited about education. Even though this eventually became an embarrassing situation, Rousseau was able to give Emile an engaging education on the topic.

Another similarity in ideals is that, both Rousseau and Dewey do not want students to learn when they have become bored. Dewey asks “How many came to associate the learning process with ennui and boredom?”(27) Rousseau clearly understands this notion, and it is clearly seen in the text that Rousseau gives Emile freedom, and, eventually Emile become interested in learning. Rousseau’s ability to create an enjoyable education process for Emile seems to be one of his curriculums strongest points.

Taking away the I

Kant argues that conscious is about the I think, while Hegel argues that conscious is constituted by the I. Julian Baggini, however, believes that there is no I in conscious, but just a  collection of experiences that are not connected. I listened to a Ted talk by Julian Baggini, and his argument against the I seems to fit perfectly with the essay that I wrote.

What if there is no I. We are merely jut a product of what we exposed to, or, as Baggini states, that we are a sum of our parts. But, isn’t it only logical that we see ourselves that way, since we see other items the same way. When you look at a mug, we don’t interpret it as something called a mug with a handle and a brim, but we interpret it as a whole. Thus, like how a cups characteristics defines the cup, so does our experience define us. This is seen in neurological studies where there is no part of the brain that brings our experiences together, or the I.

This may seem to be a scary sentiment, but when we really think about, it actually is very freeing. Firstly, saying that there is no I is not to say that we do not exist. The fact that there is no I shows that our experiences shape us, and it also shows that there is no one thing, the I, that defines us. We can create our own experiences, and, in a way, shape ourselves.

After reading philosopher’s works that emphasize some aspect of I, it was interesting to listen to someone that has a different opinion. Without the I, and the fact that wear shaped by our experiences, we are able to mold ourselves to be what we want to be without the restriction of I don’t like that or I don’t want to do that or deciding that the I is not fit for something. It is not to say that we can perfect what we experience, but it is more freeing to know that we are not bound to a single I, and the I’s characteristics. Baggini ends his talk with a quote:


“Well makers lead the water; fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; wise people fashion themselves.” –Dhammapada (verse 80)

Loss of identity

In the novel 1984 by George Orwell, the citizens themselves are turning more into objects than they are humans. The citizens in this dystopia seem to lack what makes humans unique, our consciousness. I believe that having a conscious, but not being able to act on it is far more restricting, as one can recognize oneself not adhering to oneself. As a result, they have become mindless drones.

When Hegel describes sense knowledge as the poorest form of knowledge, he is describing an object. An object that has no conscious, and, therefore, no ability to act by itself. Only others may manipulate it. But, the citizens of the dystopia seem to act in a similar fashion. They are unable to make their own decisions, and can only act in ways that benefit the state. As a result, they have no choice but to adhere to exterior will, similar to how an object can only be moved by an exterior force. The citizens also have their identity given to them. From their job, to their home, the state has complete control over their lives. As a result, they have no room to form a personal identity. Hegel states “All that it says about what it knows is just that it is; and its truth contains nothing but the sheer being of the” (91). The state has somehow created citizens that fit this example. Since they have little personal identity, what they are is simply what they are. They are an entity that exists in this home, that does this function, etc. and that is all that is known of them. Essentially, the state has successfully created a state where citizens are more object than human.

In regards to how the state treats their citizens is not what Hegel would describe as an interaction between two conscious’. In order for self-consciousness to exist, one must recognize the other as a being of conscious. As Hegel states “Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged. The Notion of this its Unity in its duplication.”(178) So, since the state does not acknowledge the conscious of its subjects, it has effectively rendered its subjects to have no consciousness to them.

The citizens of this dystopia lead an obviously miserable life. Their destiny is basically pre-determined, and their available actions are limited. As a result, I wonder which is better: To have a conscious but not being able to follow it, or just having no conscious at all.

recognition in context

The way that I interpreted Kant’s belief about observing known and unknown objects is that, known objects will cause one to subconsciously recognize it, requiring no new cognition. However, unknown objects need forms of cognition to perceive and understand the uses and identity of an object. Yet, I think that even if one is able to subconsciously recognize the object, one can still not know the identity and purpose of the object.

The way that we differentiate between objects and store them into our minds is through the objects characteristics. We look at a television and see that it is rectangular, the more modern one are flat, chords are running from the back of it, and it provides images. Hypothetically, if I were to look at a rectangle with chords running from the back of it that also provides images, I would assume that it was a T.V. But, these qualities are shared by a desktop monitor. Which is similar in all of these ways, as well as size. In this case, the two objects are not differentiable, if they were provided in an environment that does not appeal to one of the object’s inherent stigmas, as a desktop would normally be seen in an office setting, and a TV would be seen in a living room. Therefore, I do not think that one can subconsciously identify all objects known to him. There must be some subconscious decisions that require some cognitive input to achieve the identification of an object. If one were in a office building, they would initially think that I am in an office building, and, from that, if they were to see an object that has the similar characteristics of a television, they would not assume that it were a television, but a computer monitor. But this is achieved through the initial input that they are in an office.

A foundation built on lies

In a way, Plato’s allegory of the cave applies to the citizens of the myth of metals. In Plato’s allegory, the prisoners have a misconstrued conception of what is real. They believe that the shadow of an item or figure is the item itself, and they lack the knowledge to understand that the image that they are seeing is only the form of the figure. In the myth of metals, the citizens are told that they inherently have a certain metal inside of them that sets there social standings. This is done to create a utopia. But a utopia implicitly implies that everything is good in a moral sense, yet the foundation of the society is based on lies, which is morally incorrect. I find it interesting that a society that preaches good morals can be built on an idea so corrupt.

It is fair to ask, however, whether or not this is a necessary “evil”. Does it benefit the people more than it harms them? In a society where people’s social standing remains stagnant, it is easy for people to remain complacent with their lives. Therefore, they will have little motivation to be innovative. There will be little personal success and the society will not advance. This is a better case scenario. Worst case scenario is that people who are not properly suited may be in a position of high standing. I understand that the guardians are well educated, but an excellent education does not mean that someone will be good. Being good is a combination of intrinsic attributes and extrinsic teachings. There were also examples of people who were given excellent educations but still turned out poorly. As a result, you have, at it’s best, a society that promotes overall stagnation, and, at it’s worst, rulers who are not fit for ruling, which can create substantial damage to a whole society.

The Middle Ground

While reading the passages of Meno, I wondered if what they were arguing about, whether being good is taught or inherent, was a completely valid argument. I do not believe that being good can solely be taught, nor do I believe that being good is solely due to nature. It is somewhere between the spectrum of these two extremes.

Firstly, we must define what good is. I will stipulate that good means doing what is morally correct. Understanding what the morally correct thing to do in a situation is not inherent. We are taught moral standards that allow us to judge whether or not our actions would be right. However, what is inherent is the ability to act on the situation, or having the will to do so. We all have different capacities of will, and it is not something that can be taught. Yet motivation only gives reasons for an action, which can affect the outcome, but it does not effect will itself. Will is the unadulterated thought process that influences our actions, and to motivate is to adulterate these actions. Will is what will initially influences our decision, and, without the time to think through a course of action, it is the sole influence on it. Yet, as I previously stated, motivation can influence an outcome of a scenario, and motivation can be, in a sense, taught. For example, someone can teach you the benefits of exercising, or eating nutritiously, and this will affect your decision to do these thing. But it is a combination of a person’s will to act on this and the motivation from the knowledge that they gathered that will ultimately effect the pursuit of an outcome.

People must be taught what is morally good. It is not innate as will is. We do not inherently understand that violence is bad, but it must be taught to us. We also have to learn the distinction from bad violence and violence that is acceptable, such as self-defense or protecting someone. Just like motivation, morals can be taught to effect the outcome of a decision.

If we were to discuss whether or not people are born or taught to be good in Menos’ sense of the word, which is that they serve a specific part of society, the argument would change. In Menos’ stipulation of the word good, good is the quality that increases the intrinsic worth of a person in a specific field. And thus, it is mostly taught. What it means to be a good pacifist is to never react in a violent manner. Yet, the instinct of self-preservation is inherent, and instinct and what is morally good will contradict. So it must be taught to pacifists that no violence is morally good, and, in this case, this is something that we are not born knowing.

In conclusion, the outcomes of this argument is determined by how you are currently using the word good. Good, as in morally correct, has more of a middle ground between what is innate and what is taught when it comes to making a decision, while good in Menos’ sense of the word is skewed more to what is taught.