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What methods of teaching will be employed?
There are various themes in pedagogy that cater to different types of learner so classes should do their best to reflect these types in the classroom.
There should be a division between lectures and seminars/lab work, or theory and practice/debate. This means information is distributed en mass initally and the discussed in smaller groups for clarification.
As stated earlier (e8) students who are proficient in a topic, mitosis for example, should be able to help assist teaching those of a lower level covering that subject. By explaining a topic one comes to understand it better.
Each high level student will have a mentor he can refer or defer to in times of need and have dialogues with. A mentor must be at least a number of grades above the student.
E-learning will be progressively worked on as will videos created to explain all topics in the subject, complete with questions to assess comprehension and open questions that students might consider writing experiments for, contemplate on or engage in dialogue about.
New methodologies of teaching should constantly be assessed and debated. Also all new members should have some exposure to teaching seminars and lectures [not just participating].
[Note: In the years since I’ve written this the rise of MOOC’s and available resources for learning everything from code to languages has exploded across the internet, in this case these give the community nearly all the material required to created an extremely nuanced hierarchy of grades without lifting a finger. However, all free open projects should be given as much support as possible via the community to continually help and improve their services. I know these initial thoughts were written on buses and trains around town, each one of them could be the basis of whole books in themselves, however the good news is there is a huge wellspring of available resources now to help any community member learn an incredible amount even if they are the first in the community to express an interest in the field.]
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What system of dialogue will be implemented?
The concern of a dialogue is not to win an argument but to forge a greater understanding of the matter being discussed. Aristotle described and classified 4 types of arguments didactic, dialectical, examination arguments and contentious arguments. It wasn’t until recently and Waltron’s research which modernized the thoughts behind dialogues (1998).
In the new dialectic an argument is always an argument “for a purpose” whether for one person or another’s benefit, each speaker may have a goal or motive.
Types of dialogue
|TYPE||INITIAL SITUATION||MAIN GOAL||PARTICIPANTS AIM
|Persuasion dialogue||Conflicting points of view||Resolution such problems by verbal means||Persuade the other(s) in the dialogue
|Negotiation||Conflict of interests and need for more cooperation||Making a deal||Get the best out of it for oneself
|Inquiry||General ignorance||Growth of knowledge and agreement||Find a proof or destroy one
|Deliberation||Need for action||Reach a decision||Influence outcome
|Information seeking||Personal ignorance||Spreading knowledge and revealing postions||Gain, pass on, show or hide personal knowledge
|Eristics||Conflict and antagonism||Reaching a, provisional, accommodation in a relationship||Strike the other party and win in the eyes of onlookers.
The system used in the community will usually be an inquiry, persuasion or information seeking dialogue. To make it easier to tell when a dialogue has started key phrases might be worthwhile idea like “So we are discussing X now correct?” I need more research into dialogues before I write more entries.
[note: Dialogues are a form of discussion, not necessarily a debate, they were used as a teaching and reasoning method for thousands of years before falling out of vogue in recent times. The idea of discussing a principle with structured debate not just speaking louder or interrupting is a sorely required skill in the modern era. Remaining calm, noting logical fallacies in other arguments and our own is fundamental. It is especially useful in a community that actively seeks to improve itself, and where everyone should be able to voice an opinion.]
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What methods will be used to monitor and decide the continuation of projects or research?
Some channels of research can take a long time to prove, disprove or found to be impossible or pointless. If time is the only issue this should not be considered an issue. Members have left the normal way of living to exist in a place of study and research, if they wish to spend 30 years of their life investing, time and effort into a theory it is their choice. However, should a commanding piece of evidence occur to completely negate their work or through its success make other other projects redundant the research / product is subject to review. Regular meetings and conferences should be organised meetings and conferences should be created where peers can discuss informally or to an audience the trials and results of their research all research and results are posted automatically online to the community and after the study is completed to the world for peer review.
All studies should be part of an open peer review service held within an extremely searchable format allowing people to quickly find relevant studies or similar experiments in the same area. These studies can subsequently linked to by on-line writers to show references the critiques of the paper, similar studies that have the same conclusion papers that have alternative or conflicting results.
The only significant barrier to continuing or starting research then is capital and the cost of obtaining the necessary equipment or tests (a CERN sized LHC is hard to find). In such cases it will depend of the size of the community, the R&D teams within the community and the importance of the research.
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What standards will be applied to differentiate a novice from an expert? The present undergraduate, graduate, master, Professor / Doctor system is ultimately misleading. When someone claims “I am a Dr” you must then ask “of what?”, biology, philosophy, humanities etc. being a professor doesn’t suddenly give you a status to talk on every subject. Consider the martial arts and their more gradual system of grading; starting at the basic level and progressing to 1st Dan (the black belt) which, contrary to popular belief, is the where the basic level of training ends and you start to master your skills in earnest.
The difference in professional Go players is also worth noting, it is measured in a similar system from the lowest Kyu grade to the highest Dan grade, however, an even more interesting in this system is the concept that each grade difference between players is considered an extra stone handicap to the weaker player so that they can play a master on an equal footing.
All these systems correctly understand that there is a continuum of ability at knowledge at work here. You start at nothing and then progress over a lifetime to mastery, where systems differ is in how to measure how far along the continuum you have progressed so others can gauge your skill/knowledge/ability/suitability. As things stand standardized tests like GCSE’s, BAC SATs or A-Levels are created to give us a grade of our ability in each subject.
However, many people question how accurate this methodology is and whether it misrepresents or marginalizes students, it certainly only measures academic ability and knowledge, not practical application or personal experience. A much larger range of levels must be devised for the community that reflects the levels of knowledge, experience and usage of a subject, so the level will be a blend of a number of factors. This will be extensively investigated in a future entry.
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So I saw this article on neural studies of Monks doing meditation and it’s effects on the brain:
I’m presently reading a book on some of this, it’s really quite amazing. There is a sizeable amount of scientific literature which shows that meditative skills and methods have a huge number of positive benefit to the way we think. With that in mind, I wonder how long it will take to get meditation programs into schools. We are all about training the mind but really we’re mostly just teaching facts and not creative ways to think or solve problems.
In present education systems, at least the ones in the west that I am familiar, there is a focus on how much you ‘know’ as opposed to teaching students how to learn it, use it and retain it. I honestly remember very little of my schooling before University, just like most people we retain relevant pieces here and there but the bulk of it has very little use, outside of a pub quiz. Of course it’s good to have a wide spread of subjects at school to help us find what we excel in or enjoy, but what we need is to teach our children some methods ‘of learning’ rather than making them simply ‘memorize facts’
To clarify, there are a number of teachable skills and methods that we can raise attention levels, memory retention and enhance cognition among people. Even a regular 30 minute exercise and 20 minutes of meditation before schooling, every day, could have dramatic results. Mnemonic techniques have also existed for centuries and while they are a way of ‘memorizing facts’ they are a method which would help in every subject, not just one. Conceptual framing, lucid dreaming and many, many more techniques exist, they work, we already have them, they just aren’t taught in schools.
We need to teach the next generation how to think, not in George Orwellian kind of factual dictatorship kind of way, but in a vibrant, dynamic, constructive way. From memory palaces in primary school to meditation and dialogues at college. Let’s try and create better people and better learners and work from there. Let’s try make a better student rather than a more comprehensive exam, in all honesty none of us have a clue what the world will be like in 20 years anyway, so what the exam is testing for is really to give you grades to get you into the next level. It’s measuring your capability at the time it was taken. Something which will never reflect your ability in the future, nor prepare you for it.
For those worried about religious aspects or indoctrination into a particular faith, like Buddhism for example. Don’t. While religions were the initial creators of these methods they are now firmly being understood and in the realm of science. Just like we don’t teach kids Islamic algebra, Christian science or even Hindu Yoga the religious underpinnings have been clipped from these subjects and we focus on the problem solving methodology or physical benefits they offer. In the future meditation will also be stripped of its religious elements and join the world alongside other subjects. Meditation is to the mind what the gym or an exercise regime is to the body.
So now that I’ve got that off my chest, any ideas how do we go about getting these methods and meditations into schools?