Open Learning

On the ratio of Open Learning vs. Educational Instruction

It doesn't take an expert to see that instruction with an emphasis on testing and regurgitation of information does not inspire a student towards life-long learning.

Subject- or topic-based education has never been the only form of education, but its emphasis in the 20th century - despite those who worked hard to combat this trend - has had serious detrimental impacts. Among those include a decline in personal aesthetic reading (non-business related) among adults.

Jesse H. Newlon in Education for Democracy in Our Time McGraw-Hill (1939) and Raymond Callahan in Education and the Cult of Efficiency, University of Chicago Press (1964) chronicle the development of a bureaucrat class of School Administrator. An administrator who sought not aptitude in philosophy but in finance, building maintenance and other tangible skills, in order to justify their job and its security with local school boards. Over time, this and a general trend to acquiesce to the demands of industry served over time to add to the burden of teachers requiring that they provide specific instruction on required topics.

However, natural learning does not occur with ideas first per se. One learns to learn - especially in childhood - through experience, which can then be expressed with ideas, versus being given an idea and forced to match your experience to the idea.

Jesse Newlon further explores that to instill the spirit of democracy in our youth, a teacher cannot solely instruct, as democracy is an aesthetic inspiration that can only, as Plotinus said, be kindled.

I. A. Richards in a variety of his works, including Design for Escape Harcourt, Brace & World Inc. (1968), noted the advance of technology and, in his view, the danger of not having enough capable people to grow up to meet the challenges of the growing complexity of our time. He advocated using various media not purely as instructional tools but as means to illicit inquiry and the development of critical thinking and artistry.

The Shared Presence Foundation was founded on educator Roger Weir's life work, which was developed as a means and initial example of providing learning in an open manner, rather than only closed topics. This does not preclude topic- or subject-based instruction for practical purposes.

As Neils Bohr found in his study of subatomic partical mechanics, there was a seemingly complementary wave/particle nature. Likewise, learning is not only specific and tangible like a particle but has a wave or resonant aspect as well. Not unlike a great composer, a student and teacher who are inspired to learn have no particular limit on the nature or modality of their inquiry, and yet there are particular patterns and forms that serve to sustain the learning and teaching.

We hope you'll join us in consideration of recalibrating education to allow for both Open Learning and specific instruction and the development of wisdom towards assisting adults and children to meet the challenges of the 21st century.