Teacher Dependence

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Order / DeGate / DeSchooling / School’s Purpose /

The ahem higher the organism, the better capable of learning from experience. Kleptocracies don’t want citizens learning from experience on their own, and the kleptocracy’s solution is a state-run school system: learn what the state-appointed teacher says when the state-appointed teacher says it.

Not learning what the state-appointed teacher says when the state-appointed teacher says it gets penalized: you may be left back, you may not be promoted. But no left-back is punished like a drop out; and no drop out is punished like an opt-out.

But the individual most severely punished may be the one who learned something before the teacher gave the command.

I’ve several times mentioned the seminar I attended under Gordon Pask in 1971. Before Pask started speaking, and during breaks, I was circulating my FLEX literature, I was talking up Ivan Illich; but once Pask stood before us, I just listened: or tried to. I had no awareness of his theories of learning, didn’t know he had any, still am somewhat vague on them. But after the seminar I decided to introduce myself, tell him about FLEX, talk up Ivan Illich. It didn’t go well at all. I said something about Ivan Illich and auto-didacticism. He said he was on his way to some confab where he would see Illich. “Oh, say Hi for me,” I said. Then I tried to get to my role in combatting school’s default insertion of a human teacher and society’s devaluing of independent learning, its attempts to make state-imposed schools the only way, the only church. My emphasis, whatever my words, was on lowering the teacher’s pedestal. Before I had gotten many words out, Pask briskly interrupted: “For learning to take place, there must be a teacher.”

That stopped me. And I still don’t know what he really meant by that. But I’m assuming he didn’t mean the public school’s Miss Tillie.

I know I didn’t understand him; and I’m sure he didn’t understand me.

And these decades later I still haven’t absorbed his theory of learning, put off by his interruption, by his too quick mis-understanding.

He died at age sixty-seven, much revered. I’m now sixty-seven: and no one knows me or my work. Some day, if I’m still around, I really should try to figure out what he meant by “teacher”: I bet it will prove to be a black box in a cybernetic diagram, a flow chart: some aspect of the individual’s mind.

The insect finds a hole in the soil to make her nest for egg laying. She customizes the hole, “cleans” it. Then she goes out and cleans up the entrance area. She goes back into the hole to check her work. If the scientist filming her efforts puts a pebble in her entrance way. As she comes out, she finds it, clears it away, and goes back inside and cleans the nest again.

If meantime the scientist puts another pebble in her entrance way, she recycles through the whole behavior. Anyone with the patience, and lack of heart, could effectively sterilize her: she’d never get to lay her eggs. She was born with that behavior programmed, she can’t alter it based on her experience. Bateson called such learning Learning0. Learning1 manifests where the creature learns something that’s innate, not in its genes: the bird makes a better nest on its second try than on its first.

Robots of the past knew only what they were programmed to know. We’re working on programming robots to be able to try some Learning1.

Bateson talks about Learning2 in meta-terms: learning to learn. Bateson illustrates with the story of the porpoise who did tricks in a water show. One day the handlers didn’t reward her when she did her usual tricks. She got agitated, they put her back in her own tank. They tried again later. Finally, she showed them a new trick, then another, then behaviors never before recorded for cetaceans! This porpoise was a Newton!

Bateson says that schools think they are dealing with Learning2; No, no, he says. Strictly Learning1.

pk adds that compulsory, state-controlled schools (and to a large extent state financed universities) (and that’s nearly all universities!) are steering us back toward Learning0: don’t learn your own learning; learn only our learning.

The mercantile-industrial-politicized society would be happier I don’t doubt with insects for people.

School’s Purpose

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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