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Regarding education, I think the whole discussion is one of the most important that can be had. I was vague on purpose just because there is a preliminary point that I was trying to make:

The understanding that humans are not naturally uber-rational or potentially omniscient.

An education system devised to deal with human flaws (for the lack of a better term) has to start with the assumption that humans are flawed. This seems tautological, but it is not what we are thought to believe. The prevalent belief is that we can be super(wo)men: highly rational actors.

A discussion about how to educate "flawed" humans, would be indeed gigantic. But I could speculate on some ideas:

  1. training in delusions and self-delusions. For example learning on how to detect fallacies in speech (typical in marketing and with some politicians). Learning on how to detect self-reinforcing views of the world.

  2. A contextualization of current options in society. History of law is an example (as dry as it sounds). For instance why do liberal societies assume "innocent until proven otherwise"? These options do not spring out of nothing (though a without-sin view of humanity might disagree)

  3. Making people present arguments against what they believe (e.g. make an Atheist put forward an argument for Christianity and vice-versa)

  4. Accepting error

...

But my point, for now, is rather simple and something that goes before all this: the idea that we need to discard the premise of the human-as-mostly-a-rational/good-being.

by cagatacos on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 07:11:46 AM EST
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cagatacos:
the idea that we need to discard the premise of the human-as-mostly-a-rational/good-being.

Even with the 'mostly' qualifying your statement, it still smacks of binary thinking.

People are not born full of sin or virtue, but the potential for both. The old paradigm education was to 'knock sense into the rogues' and now seems more to address the problem of ignorance and not traumatise children by letting them feel 'less-than'.

People left feral act badly. When over-disciplined they turn rebellious or over-passive. A middle, hard-to-quantify way is needed.

No binary easy exit from the crux of the problem that all children are different in their abilities to accpt and thrive in structured environments. Some will 'get it' that spending the best part of their youths indoors in uncomfortable chairs studying instead of playing outside or goofing off is a good trade-off for the life of Reilly they will enjoy when the long-delayed kicks in, others will be less likely to trust in that promise.

There is the social pact to consider in all this too. In the boarding schools I went to the bullying prefects (students) when asked why they perpetuated the system that had so humiliated them when they were younger said it was their revenge.

How misplaced that was eluded them.  

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 08:54:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A middle, hard-to-quantify way is needed.
That way should bold down to (or involve crucially) inspiring leadership. Whoever leads that way, must employ all instinctive bio-neuro-chemisty for leadership and following. The world awaits to get fucked by a great idea and action. Maybe ours?
by das monde on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 12:13:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like the Dutch say, you paddle with the oars you have, not the ones you wish to have. The Catholic focus on flaws is a too serious, even depressing, approach. Who are we to judge what is a flaw, what has to be improved - especially if yourself would not take action? The humanity was never close to a rationality, omniscience ideal - why would we seek to reach it above everything else? Hardly anyone wants to believe in (or be) a highly rational actor. Are we sure about real educational premises put to action?

The human mind is still a wonder in this world, capable of observing, experiencing, analyzing, making decisions. An yes, we can do rational thinking pretty cleanly, just as our legs are capable of running. But rational thinking requires more than having a few lessons in analysis of delusions, fallacies. Firstly, it needs regular practice, like a muscle. Secondly, it needs to discipline (but not to dash) the "flawed" mind circuits. Thirdly, it is not a particularly fun experiential activity, so it needs to be friends with the "flawed" states of mind anyway. Rationality is void without motivation, priorities, purpose, experience. We would be greatly lucky if most people would just practice the second aspect.

Memorizing is a rational mental task, but savants and memory competitions show that the effective way to memorize is to link the given objects to emotions, spacial experiences. So it is worth to be creative, with whatever you have.

by das monde on Thu Jun 19th, 2014 at 11:52:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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