PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, January 10, 2019

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is Modern Education "Robotizing" People? + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Is Modern Education "Robotizing" People?

But first David Butler will be organising guided tours to the British
Cemetery until Easter. You can find more details here:
Cementerio Británico, visitas guiadas

In the past we discussed education at least three times, I include the
links for two essays:
Religion and Education (December, 2004)

Education, Indoctrination and Instruction (November, 2017)

Returning to the topic on Sunday, Ruel kindly wrote an essay for us
which you can find here:
Here is the link to the essay, "Is Modern Education "Robotizing"
People?", which I wrote for the next PhiloMadrid meet-up on Sunday, 13
January 2019:

Thank you very much and good night.

And finally my topic:
Essay by Lawrence

Is modern education robotizing people?

The foundation of education is epistemology. Knowledge is a key feature
for a functioning society. Education helps us to understand the people
around us, the world around us and most important of all how to achieve
and do things.

Today, education is quite a complex system with the function of passing
on key knowledge to new generations, discovering new knowledge and
preparing people to be gainfully occupied in society. However, education
is not some lofty function that exists for people. At the very
foundation of the education model is social engineering. The first and
foremost scope of education is to benefit society, maybe even a selected
few at that, and not the individual.

If education was for the benefit of the individual the system would not
have an inherit function to select people based on utilitarian
principles. Educate as many people as possible and let go of the rest.
It is true that today some educators have devised excellent programmes
at universities and primary education to help people explore and excel
in their learning progress. But generally speaking the education model
is still based on recalling categories and remember the "what is". The
educational model today is far away from the Socratic method of learning
by critical thinking and enquiry. The theory of teaching today is still
based on the principle of top down memory function: we tell you what is
and you have to remember it as is.

This top down system has a number of important features. It limits the
time employed searching for the facts and maybe for the truth; there is
no point spending fifteen minutes to rediscover the wheel. Secondly the
top down system makes it very easy to excel in this environment, except
this seems to be a hidden secret especially from parents and students.
The secret is that students have to be avaricious readers and with a
keen sense of curiosity to learn more and know more. But even these
gifted people are most times thwarted by psychologically forcing them to
read what we think is important rather than what aggressively awakens
their sense of curiosity to learn.

We are told early in life that we have to study to get a good job later
in life. Never mind the tragedy if an 8 year old should know what a job
is, there is nothing wrong with learning to improve one's lot but the
issue is: how true is this claim? This claim belongs to that set of
claims that imposes some moral righteousness on a person on the premise
that is good for them, but in reality the benefit is for others; borrow
money to buy a house because it is an investment, is another of those
claims. As we know, many people are excluded from the educational system
and some do well and others not that well, others are quite successful
and do very well in life and others who do well academically might still
end up doing badly in their career.  To test the veracity of the
statement (study for a good job) maybe we can devise a hard and a soft
test: the hard test would be to find out how many PhD scholars have to
flip hamburgers to make ends meet and the soft test would be to find out
how many PhD scholars are earning less than 50% of their potential
earning capacity (willing to be poor excepted).

My point here is that if we buy into the distortion that if we study we
get a good job, rather than if the economy is stable we should be able
to find a good job the more we are qualified, it binds us to accept
whatever educational system social engineers want to set up for us: of
course the ultimate social engineers are politicians with an agenda
either motivated by dogma or bias.

The principle of universalizability in ethics was supposed to find moral
principles that would apply to all of us universally: everyone could it.
Of course, Kant's sophisticated analysis is a sophisticated account of
the otherwise dogma that we should obey a higher power just because it
is a higher power. But the principle of universalizability is still a
sound and valid principle for us; except it is not valid because of an
imaginary friend or some aliens still to visit us. The
universalizability principle still applies because if something applies
to one human being then it ought to apply to all human beings without

Thus the universalizability principle should lead us to interpret the
principle "study to get a good job later in life" at face value: the
focus is on educating the individual and not the job, so that the
individual can improve their lot and also contribute efficiently to
society their best way possible. We should study not because we need
more doctors, nor funds made available to arts courses because we need
better entertainment, but rather we should study because we can
contribute to our well being and to the well being to our society. If
things work well for us then we are more disposed to make things work
for others.

The implication of a change in our thinking is that education should be
modelled on critical thinking, personal creativity, and access to
knowledge and most of all learning from good past experiences as much as
from present errors. Why, for example, society wastes a lot of time and
money funding research but then does not publish negative results that
are as valuable as positive results? Learning from mistakes is still a
valuable and key form of learning but the present educational model
abhors mistakes rather than learn from them.

Moreover, universalizability applies to everyone one of us, which means
that education (and medical care) based on whether we can afford to go
to school or university is in contravention of the principle of
universalizability and the "study for a better job" principle. Some
might argue: how are we going to pay for all this free education? The
answer is "very simple", the same way we pay for military equipment or
roads in the countryside: are we expected to buy our own battle tank in
case of a conflict with an enemy?

The main issue is that the present model of education is not set up to
reflect the propaganda of what education ought to be. And if we have to
finance our own education how can that fulfil the principle of
universalizability of education if one cannot afford to pay for such
education? Today most governments recognise the principle of free
universal education and some even offer funding all the way up to post
graduate education while others (Denmark) even pay a salary to their
university students. But even this only fulfils part of the Study-Job
principle since there is no relationship, causal or otherwise, between
studying now and the state of the economy upon graduation.

Of course, education is not meant to robotize people, and it probably
doesn't. However, the present model has many determining biases, as I
have argued; it distorts and adversely influences the product and effect
of education itself. I would argue that the present model does not
necessarily robotise people but it certainly has an incestuous effect
and creates distorted evolutionary epistemological effects on people and
hence the individual and society. This does not mean that everyone is a
moron nor a dogmatist but certainly everyone is affected by this
distorted model. From a philosophy of science perspective, is the
present model of education bad evolution?

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid

#philosophy #education #knowledge #learning #bias

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is Modern Education
"Robotizing" People? + News

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