Category: Education


Steven Johnson’s ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’

Summary and Reaction to Chapter 3 (The Slow Hunch) of Steven Johnson’s book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’

The main argument in the chapter is that great innovations are due to accumulative processes rather than spontaneous ‘eureka’ moments.  Almost in any major technological or scientific innovation of modern times, the break-through was made possible by the robust base built by accrued prior knowledge.

A key idea put forward by Steven Johnson is that of ‘convergence’.  This is the process of the gradual accumulation of information, concepts and their interrelationships that are precursors to the occurrence of ‘insight’. Although the decision to synthesize and analyze them is that of an individual, the fundamental facts and concepts can be fetched from a disparate range of sources. To this extent, though great innovations are not one-off events of brilliance, they are the result of ‘collective intelligence’. Collective . . . Read More

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A speculation on the most valuable book lost to humanity

Much of the knowledge which the world had at one time has been lost to us now.  Natural disasters, wars, fires, have destroyed books and the knowledge in them.  We know they existed once, but they no longer exist now.Suppose you could protect and save ONE of the things we’ve read this semester so people of future generations could read it and think about it, which one would it be and why?

There are several contenders for the title of the most valuable book lost to humanity.  Homer’s Margites is a strong candidate due to its philosophical richness.  Likewise, the Lost Books of the Bible leaves Christians wondering at possibilities.  Jane Austen’s Sanditon would have enhanced the author’s already formidable reputation.   But from several such worthy contenders, my choice for the most valuable book would be William Shakespeare’s Cardenio. If I am endowed with the power to save the book through . . . Read More

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William Shakespeare: A Question of Authorship

William Shakespeare and JS Bach are perhaps the two most important cultural figures in Western Civilization. This high pedestal that they occupy makes questions over their authorship almost blasphemous for their admirers. If Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor has come for scholarly debate in recent years, the question marks over Shakespeare’s authorship were raised four centuries earlier and cover a substantial part of his work. The Anti-Stratfordians (as those sceptical of Shakespeare’s authorship are called) prefer to attribute his works to one among the following contenders: Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Edward Dyer, the earl of Derby or especially Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford. In this backdrop, the challenge facing both the faithful and the doubters is the scarce historical record to either support or disprove their claims. If the late Baroque obscurity surrounding Bach’s primary documents lead to no definite conclusions, it is even more . . . Read More

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Education in the Future

Education is very important for social progress.  Whether our civilization will flourish or not is dependent on the quality of education we offer children.  As it stands, the education system today has a few obvious flaws.  The foremost is the emphasis on competition and grades, which turns students into machines that cram up data before an examination.  But such a method is unlikely to produce original and critical thinkers for the future. So, in order to have a bright future for education as well as for society a revision in education methods, curriculum and goals is called for.

One of the ways in which to secure the future of education is to embrace bold and experimental systems of education.  The Pragmatist education model that was inspired by philosopher John Dewey is a case in point.  In this system there are no grades for individual performance.  What matters is creativity, community participation and collective problem-solving.  The curriculum is also not . . . Read More

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New perspectives on Education & Philosophy: Realism

Realism: Summary

Students are encouraged to think critically and creatively. Teachers, instead of spoon-feeding all concepts and course content, give a fair degree of liberty for students to find their own individualized style of learning. They prompt students to find equilibrium in the interaction between the organism and the environment. There is a focus on student experience and taking social action for solving real problems.

Realism: Synthesis & Response

Realism is a relevant philosophy of schooling even today. The prevalent system of education does not mould students into well-rounded and socially-conscious individuals. The emphasis is too much on grades and individual excellence. Being part of the current education system I can clearly see what Realism offers. Under this system of education student co-operation is given more importance compared to student competition. This is not the case in the current system where . . . Read More

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New perspectives on Education & Philosophy: Social Reconstruction

Social Reconstruction: Summary

This system treats education as an instrument for addressing social problems. Education is seen as the means to creating a harmonious social order.  It adopts an open ended syllabi intended to meet practical problems with socially conscious solutions.  Progressive education is embraced as against conservative models. Some of the leading thinkers include Theodore Brameld, George Counts and Paulo Freire.  One of the core beliefs of its pioneers is that systems must be changed to overcome social and individual oppression. The system encourages students to find creative solutions for problems such as violence, hunger, economic inflation, terrorism, etc. There is a strong belief in literacy as a vehicle for social change.

Social Reconstruction: Synthesis & Response

It should be lauded that social reconstruction attempts to create constructive dialogue and . . . Read More

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New perspectives on Education & Philosophy: Idealism

Idealism: Summary

This model of education focuses on value education and student character development. One of the goals is to gear learning toward understanding objective truth.  The teacher plays an important role in imparting knowledge.  Conceptual methodology that uses logic and rationality is employed as an instructive tool.  The education method is so designed to stimulate the student’s intellect.  This school of education is based on the assumption that that which is ultimately real is spiritual or ideational.

Idealism: Synthesis & Response

Although Idealism is the preferred system of education in the 19th century, its relevance has continued to decline in the 20th century.  This is due to its old-fashioned core goals such as value education and student character development. In other words, it is not very compatible with the labor market orientated structuring of curriculum and goals that . . . Read More

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New Perspectives on Philosophy and Education: Pragmatism

Pragmatism: Summary

Philosophers such as John Dewey, Charles Peirce and William James are the founding fathers of Pragmatism in education.  These influential thinkers rejected Idealistic education model and instead conceived of schools as institutions for practical goals. The curriculum is based on performing activities, history and geography, and scientific problem solving. Progressive politics is also taught to students. Students are encouraged to take a pragmatic approach to problem solving.  The curriculum is not rigidly set.  In contrast only the broad outline is provided within which a variety of course content could be accommodated. The teachers play the role of a mentor to students.  There is no standardized evaluation of learning. Moreover, the process involves experimentation and learning through experience rather through concepts.  Pragmatism also rejects Metaphysical Absolutes and Metaphysical Dualisms.

Pragmatism: Synthesis . . . Read More

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Literature Review: Why do International Students Choose Australia to Study?

There are numerous favourable reasons why international students opt to study in Australia. A review of the literature pertaining to the topic published over the last 5 years throws light on these reasons. Some of the major reasons include cost-effectiveness, multi-racial academic environment, prospects for employment after graduation, precedent of successful immigrant integration into society, government support for overseas students, etc. But the review also revealed how there are some issues of racism and political conservatism that discourage international student enrolment. Nevertheless, on balance, the favourable reasons outnumber and outweigh the drawbacks. The rest of this paper will highlight the array of reasons why international students choose to study in Australia, while also indicating the negative factors gleaned from the research.
It is a reflection of the attractiveness of Australia as a centre for higher studies that it ranks third among a dozen competing . . . Read More

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An outline of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche’s key ideas and their contribution to the development of social thought.

Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche are two important intellectuals whose thoughts are integral to the development of social thought in Europe and North America.

Immanuel Kant’s thoughts have enriched a wide variety of disciplines within humanities, including theology, political science and sociology. But Kant’s work does not fit easily into any particular disciplinary paradigm.  Of late, Kant’s thoughts have regained eminence in the study of international politics.  Contemporary proponents of Kant’s relevance to international politics espouse the view that democracy leads to peace. But this position contradicts the philosophic foundations of Kant’s works.  Hence there is not straightforward account of how Kant’s works have influenced subsequent social thought.  The infiltration of Kant’s ideas into later scholarship is at places overt and at others subtle.  Neither is the influence uniform and unidirectional for contradictions abound. (Rossi, 2010, . . . Read More

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