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the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 07-30-2016 11:16 AM

For those of you seeing this a second time, I am re-posting so as to begin a thread of, blog posts I guess.

I wanted to promote my ideas in a better format, where somebody new to this thread can easily read it from the beginning. The older thread got a lot of views, but weren't structured right for my purposes.

Open Source Learning: the Three Category System

What is Open-Source Learning?
It is an approach to learning that seeks to turn anything and everything into an educational experience.

What is the Three Category System?
It is an approach to knowledge that sorts everything into one of three categories.

(1) Facts, those truths which we simply have to submit to.
(2) Opinions, the things that are subject to debate.
(3) Experience, those things you must do to understand.

The purpose of this framework is to aid in analyzing any given situation. Our knowledge is never complete, so as a way of figuring out how to fill those gaps, we consider these three aspects.

The difference between a “fact” and a “conclusion” is decisive, for one is actually an opinion. The Art of Conversation is that we listen attentively to the thoughts of others as in (1), though we also seek to understand, clarify, or challenge in pursuit of a more fact-based understanding (2). We also don’t ask our physics teacher how to throw a curveball, we ask a pitcher for some tips and then we grab an actual ball (3).

What about the different learning styles of kids?
I don’t believe that different learning styles exist, rather that we have interests and inclinations and that the nature of those interests are different.

I ask, if you need to learn with your hands, how then would you approach literary analysis? Does it just need to not be a Kindle? What if you are more of a visual learner, how would you approach theology? Do we need to now draw a diagram of God?

It might also be that some honesty reflex goes off when we hear an opinion that is not our own, and we don’t trust it until we arrive at the conclusion ourselves. This process will vary based on the question, not the questioner.

How can “Anything” be made Educational?
Consider that any activity bears these three aspects in some form or another. One of my favorite examples is Legos.

The materials you work with are what they are, they are not subject to debate (1), but the possibilities still remain endless. You work (3) to bridge the gap between your imagination and reality constantly making decisions (2) along the way on how to best construct your vision. The play itself is already educational, though it might not be obvious how.

Consider too that I’ve just described the basic skill set for a wide range of high-paying and respectable jobs. Engineering and architecture aside, consider how much technology is employed to make a house work or a car work. Understanding how to repair things can make good money, and even beyond that is the prospect of being a reseller fixing up old ones; appliances, cars, or even houses themselves.

How do we prepare kids for adulthood/working?
The process I envision is as follows, that the natural interests of children are encouraged enthusiastically at first, and as they grow up over time, our support becomes more challenging and critical.

The “facts of life” are, as facts, a matter where the child should be sat down and made to listen, but we have to be honest with ourselves about where our knowledge ends, and work, perhaps even with them, to fill those gaps.

Trips outside the house to find information and the people who have it are wonderful, meaningful, purposeful adventures which can result in contacts, networks, and even the possibility of referrals to people in a position to employ or invest.

If your child wants to be a(n) “X”, find some “X’s”, and ask them hard questions about what is it really like and how do you get in. Curiosity needs to be satisfied and the greater world needs to be made available to pique such curiosity.

Don’t just “get out of the house”, do it with purpose, conviction, and objectives, even if they are vague.

How could I ever do this? I am so busy!
Useful things always require that time be budgeted in some way. My suggestion, practice first the Art of Conversation by scheduling about 30 minutes for meetings on a regular basis to discuss the interests your child is currently pursuing. The goal of these meetings is to identify new objectives in the pursuit of those interests and to review written reports they make on their progress. You take a moment to review these for correct Grammar, Logic, and follow up with questions.

By taking such an active interest in them you can count on them to follow through with the work, even if their interests change (it will). And since your explanation of Grammar and Logic, which are facts of communication and reason, is in the context of their interest they should be more receptive than if those same subjects were handled in an abstract manner.

There are more than 10,000 minutes in a week, so 30 minutes should be reasonable, but they should be focused with multi-tasking kept to a minimal.

I came up with an epistemological framework to critique educational methods. My idea is like this; knowledge should be taught according to its nature.

Knowledge Categories:
(1) Fact
(2) Opinion
(3) Experience

The difference between facts and opinions is decisive, but confusing. Frequently "facts" are mere opinions stated in an authoritarian manner, but facts do exists in theory. So what exactly belongs here in category one?

Logic is the strong arm in opinion formation and analysis because in general logic calls upon us to be honest about the evidence we are using to support our case. With logic however only three conclusions can be reached (1) necessary, (2) possible, or (3) impossible. Facts we say are anything that can be shown as necessary or impossible, everything else which is less than definite belongs in the second category.

Somethings must be experienced to be understood, even though some science may exist or be developed to support it. This is the third category

(1) Fact > Lectures w/ Q&A
(2) Opinion > Conversations
(3) Experience > Mentoring

As for matters of fact, a proclaimed knower should be allowed the chance to explain is understanding. Listening attentively, taking notes, and preparing follow up questions most befits the student of such a discipline. We are all fallible, and some of us just process information different, but we need to allow ourselves to be led sometimes.

As for matters of opinion, the one which isn't stated cannot be tested, therefore taking turns putting forth ideas in a process where mutually interested people work towards sounder conclusions is the best way to approach opinions.

As for any activity, you must learn by doing. For this a mentor gives you tips or basics for you to be mindful of while doing. The physics teacher may be able to explain how curve-balls work, but there is a big difference between him and a pitcher who can actually do it.

(1) Fact > Lectures w/ Q&A > Purity & Sincerity
(2) Opinion > Conversations > Wisdom
(3) Experience > Mentoring > Excellence

When we allow ourselves to be open and submissive to others, we get a chance to take in stuff which argumentative types might miss out on. Red Herrings crop up frequently if allowed to, so we let the case be spoken before we summarize our understanding in the form of questions, if necessary. It is the act of a person genuinely interested in learning to sit and pay attention.

In spite of how confusing things may appear, those who can connect dots and form sound judgment are the ones we label as wise. To make clear the muddy waters is to be a person qualified to judge which we practice by judging with fellow judgers. This is done most effectively when the 1st quality is being practiced: cognizance of Logic.

To act with presence and soundness of mind is to perform excellently. Trying is the means to perfection, so the best of us are those who practice.

(1) Fact > Lectures w/ Q&A > Purity & Sincerity > Logic & Basic Math
(2) Opinion > Conversations > Wisdom > the Humanities & Sciences
(3) Experience > Mentoring > Excellence > the Arts

Rules are what they are, and so how we evaluate things objectively is learned in the first category. Although physics is a science, gravity is a fact, so lets be careful how we position that ladder. These are those things that you simply receive and classes make sense for these subjects.

The oxford method is probably the best where you simply work on whatever subject you want to research and your professor just meets with you now and again to check and guide your progress. Reliance upon secondary sources can be problematic however since new questions frequently require original research, which is most definitely an Art.

Anything which is done should be taught by one who has. They should make their best effort to turn their Art into a science but should also have the humility to realize that expertise kinda doesn't exist here.

Everyday practicality

You approach something you want to learn about in this way: Figure out how each part of that subject fits into which category and treat it according to its nature. Find out how "the Facts" of the subject are obtained and critique them if necessary. Form opinions with others of the same interests. Make an effort to obtain new information and add it to the discussion.

I'm taking the lack of engagement with these ideas as a sign I need to give them some more content.

I'm going to write a book about this. That's the plan at least, as soon as I finish a much smaller project I intend to post here. (not on this thread)

I'm planning the book to be a collection of essays, planning the table of contents first which I would then write according to all of the separate integrated ideas I have regarding not just this system, but how to apply it to existing academia, schooling, and life in general.

Skimming the wikipedia page on informal logical fallacies it can easily be gleamed that pretty much every fallacy is simple an abstract example of how to not be honest about whatever subject you are discussing. This is why I place Logic in the first category since THAT is the category of "Truth" or its best approximation, thus it has the strong arm in debate. You reject an idea of mine, so the question becomes "on what basis do you reject my opinion" and if an actual error in logic can be discovered I either have to come up with a new more logical explanation or change my opinion.

So a big part of my book would be examining the role Logic actually would play in our daily lives and how to integrate it into existing study. of course one of my concepts I mentioned in the pamphlet, though I didn't name it, is "Prior Investment", that is since somebody is already interested in something and has pursued that interest, they have a "Prior Investment" in the subject, and would hopefully, therefore, be more receptive to constructive criticism on the basis of Logic, just as one example.

The fact is, all of this content is applicable to adult people living "real life" and ultimately these ideas would be not as a way for home-schoolers to reform their methods, or teachers to change their approach, but to put everybody on the same page and on equal footing on the basis of not just Logic, which is the argumentative trump card, (which students are dis-armed of) but by understanding how to open the curriculum up to endless possibilities while maintaining justifiable discipline.

Every method has its place. sometimes shutting up is in order, the question is when. Sometimes arguing is in order, the question is when. and sometimes just doing it and shutting up is in order, the question is when. This is what my Three Category System is intended to answer.

The western academic tradition is not without its merit. In general the real benefit of studying the humanities or the sciences is just to develop the ability to reason to a conclusion, using evidence as needed.

This quite practical use however is subverted in two ways. (1) in the needless compartmentalization of the various disciplines and (2) dogmatism.

As for (1), everybody knows that literature informs history and that history informs literature, but in school these disciplines are made trivial by their lack of the other. Trivial in the sense that their relevance to real life or to the other subjects is neither apparent nor a part of the study.

As for (2), when you get those teachers who don't appreciate that research and argumentation are the skills sought, they make the class a lecture with tests, assignments, and virtually no discussion (authoritarianism). This of course varies, with people exposed to good teachers wondering what the rest of us are complaining about...

Take for instance my interest in educational methodology. It has some elements of religion to it, since its actually a secularization of the Islamic scholastic tradition. It has some basic epistemology, drawing on philosophy. It draws heavily from my own experience, which is never a part of school, that is you never bring anything to the table... I'm not really talking about psychology, but I do deal with "learning disabilities" as a subject. This particular interest is not easily classifiable, and the uniqueness of this interest leaves no place within established "subjects" as they are classified.

Lets talk about my juxtaposition of King Arthur and his Round Table to Pharoah and his Pyramid. Watching the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies I could connect all of these ideas to the manner in which corporate America organizes, arguing that a system of ethics derived from somewhat commonly accepted ideals could be possible in real life, but clarifying that human fallibility and moral weakness are ultimately the real reason we find what we do in the present day.

How would you classify a project like that?

Since by identifying the ends sought by studying the humanities, the question then becomes "why restrict the topics studied"?

The purpose of the Three Category System is to figure out where each discipline belongs in terms of method, and how to properly free it from hindering constrains. The distinction between the Humanities and Sciences is arguably arbitrary as well in that Medicine muddies the water quite effectively, although Medicine does tend towards "science" which is why everything is a pill and nobody seems happy...

If somebody is allowed to pursue their interests in an uncontrolled manner, perhaps this is bad... after all, you need the knowledge from the 1st Category, namely Logic, to ensure that the conclusions drawn from study are reasonable. Thus, I say the best method employed to teach/learn any of the Humanities and Sciences is by freely studying relevant material and following up with a cool minded mutually interested critic who is aware of Logic and perhaps knows where to go in further pursuit of the interest.

I alluded too but did not name a concept I call "prior investment". Essentially my theory is that when it comes time to learn the necessary science of reason, Logic, it need not be a dry dull lecture, but in the context of reviewing some study done by a student. In that case the student already has a "prior investment" in the topic and so presumably would be more inclined to tolerate criticism of his findings, provided they are fair and neutral, which is why I stress Logic.

A quick browsing of the wikipedia page on Logical fallacies ought to quickly demonstrate that most of Logic is about being honest about the topic at hand. That is why I say the 1st category, where submission is warranted, is the strong arm in debate which is necessary to develop to skill of arriving at conclusions based on research, the 2nd category. I call the 1st category the Traditional Sciences since they are essentially rules that are transmitted, but the 2nd category the Critical Sciences and mastered through research and debate, tempered by the 1st category.

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 08-07-2016 11:27 PM

Wikipedia Theory

So, in general, we know that the basis of the humanities and sciences is learning to form sound opinions using evidence. The best theory is the one most incorporating of all the relevant evidence and give all of the data meaning. Various kinds of logical fallacies give reason to dismiss data on the basis of "there must be some problem with the data" which could be valid, but lets take a closer look at the process of reason itself.

Lets take the complex problem of economics. What is a sound economic policy? Well to answer that, we want to discuss priorities. Are we more concerned with the rights of people or are we concerned with the wealth of people? If we are concerned with rights, how do we deal with labor disputes or the reality of virtual slavery in some jobs? If our goal is to maximize the spread of wealth, by what means do we try to accomplish this?

If you define the economy by the flow of money, the question becomes "how do you keep it flowing?" It could be argued that massive conglomerations of wealth are cancerous for the economy in the most literal possible way since ultimately such conglomerations are warehouses where money goes to stop moving. You could then argue that the Islamic system of taxing excess or "unspent" wealth at the flat rate of 2.5% annually is a good economic policy since it causes money that would otherwise collect dust to move again. Do we include in the rights of people the right to hoard?

Let me step back a moment to point out that I've discussed economics in two paragraphs without citing a specific example of anything.

Evidence is not always necessary in the development of a theory. Using a course of reason can suffice to create your framework which you could test by looking for real examples. This could be said of general academic methodology, that confirmation bias is the commonest mistake since the process is reasonable, but sometimes produces logic such as this:

"If all of the animals evolved we would see what we do in front of us."

"ummm, If creationism were true, we would be seeing that same data"

"You can't test the theory of creationism!!!"

"could you perhaps explain why the oldest known eye is also the most complex with no known historic precursor?"

"you are picking and choosing examples to fit your agenda"

In Logic, there are three possible conclusions you can reach. (1) Necessary, (2) Possible, or (3) Impossible. Where people go wrong is assuming that "probable" is an actual position distinct from "possible". The great error of "probable" is that is a slippery slope to say that it IS true, hence the unreasonableness of the evolutionist refusing the engage with or be honest about the counter example.

So how does this all fit into Wikipedia?

Just as how I showed that a theory can be build from scratch by reason alone, not needing or wanting evidence, then what is the issue of reading Wikipedia at the beginning of or during the process of research?

If we can create by reflection and cursory investigation through Wikipedia a "model" for understanding, into which we can more easily fit pieces into our research, then indeed Wikipedia can be seen filling the role of the conversation partner in the Art of Conversation. You, by creating some guess as to how the data will look, search to see if it does. Eventually you may need to confront some "actual" research for your purposes, but to start off, where most people never actually leave, Wikipedia is a great source of general knowledge and insight.

As with the Art of Conversation, you know by some level of intuition what you expect the truth to be. This is totally valid, which is why if somebody asserts an argument, you engage with it by challenge or by further inquiry. Wikipedia cannot reason, but neither can any book, so ultimately it falls short if only by virtue of being the written word.

The question of reliability comes up however. To what extent do we trust the information itself. Well, the question should be "on what basis DO we trust information"

Generally, the extent to which a piece of information contradicts accepted patterns is the extent to which we need proof. In other words, we need proof to be definite and clear when its conclusion is going to change what we view as true. There is however another set of situations where we need proof, and it rests wherever authority is or is needed.

For matters of Law, conviction needs to be "beyond a reasonable doubt" meaning that what evidence is gathered and presented has to be so definitive that a plausible alternative explanation is rendered impossible. The judge presiding must make a decision to match his authority, meaning that the verdict has to be in line with the facts. In the Islamic tradition our Prophet (saws) said that three out of four judges are in the Hellfire, because they render verdicts based on their own opinions.

For matters of medicine, malpractice is a very real thing. It is essentially when a doctor uses too much of his sciency training and steps outside of established practice. The same issue arises, that until a treatment is proven by means of empirical study it is to be considered theoretical, therefore not the proper practice of medicine. In other words, before you administer a treatment you need to prove outside of that particular instance that the treatment works to affect its ends.

In matters of religion, I submit the example of the legal schools of Islam vs. the people who simply read the Holy Text or the sayings of the Prophet (saws). The best parallel to this is the US Constitution. Although the basis for our laws is found there, ultimately prior precedent in the form of actual cases forms the bulk of the law. Try quoting the Constitution when you defend yourself in court without a lawyer and watch everyone laugh at you. Similarly, the authority we believe the Prophet (saws) to have was in a number of ways granted to a handful of His Companions (raa), and amongst them there grew a tradition of transmitting their knowledge and granting authority to their students. By a thorough familiarity of the tradition, backed by a scholastic chain of transmission back to the Prophet, people so trained hold a greater authority to issue verdicts than one who has simply read the books himself.

The role therefore of wikipedia can be seen as (1) a great starting point in exploring ideas and routes of study, (2) valid to the degree that evidence is not required for a theory, and (3) when proof or authority is not needed.

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 08-28-2016 03:02 AM

The Fallacy of Anti-Colonialism

The sculptor's analogy has been used to describe the spiritual path of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, that by the subtraction of material a proper and well developed human being is released, made free of the burden of sin and stupidity. Such is the case with society at large. The true patriot does not defend the totality of a nation, but as any political debate shows, the disagreement is about what needs to be done to fix things.

Our school system is hated by an unknown percentage of students and parents, unknown because these people have no effective voice. The issue with these people is not that they want to tear down various aspects of the system, but that nobody quite knows what should be left behind, the sculpture revealed by effective demolition.

What makes an adversary formidable is their command of themselves, their skill, and their effectiveness against your efforts. These skills of theirs don't emerge from a vacuum, but from years of control and discipline. The powerless have no effective counter and so rage and hate are born from the oppression of the powerful. In most story arcs where the villain is extremely formidable, and the hero weak and untrained, the story is resolved by a series of challenges and tests overcome by our hero until eventually he is ready to face the villain. Where we go wrong is in failing to take a lesson from this trope, that for our own weakness and stupidity, we must confront ourselves and remove from our being that which is holding us back, to jettison our baggage and become the refined and disciplined hero capable of defeating the villain.

Where many of us go wrong is being addicted to hate like a drug, finding company with other addicts, and nobody ever progressing on a spiritual path towards effective resistance to the object of our hate. We want to tear everything down, but few volunteer for the challenge of rebuilding. Quite unreasonably the whole rebuilding thing is scrapped for the fact that "building was what got us here in the first place". Indeed, a toxic plant should be cut down, but is it reasonable to indict all plants? From what seed shall we grow a new and better system, or what material should be left behind when the useless is gotten rid of?

I suggest that the spiritual path itself be our basic curriculum, the exact details of which we decide for ourselves.

(1) To commit to honesty, to confront with sincerity any and every idea whether we agree with it or not, and decide with full honesty where the truth is, and where the lies are. This is the subtraction of material as per the sculptor's analogy.

(2) That we decide for ourselves what meaningful work must be done in our communities, what we are capable of doing, and how to get it done. This is plant analogy where from our seed of honesty, sincerity, and humility we gradually come to realize ourselves in our context

(3) that we struggle and work to exact our ends, leaving behind all the hindering addictions that keep us stuck, never progressing.

This concept is hardly unique, but it seems the most basic and reasonable foundation for all of education. Science is the "How" to get it done in (2), the humanities are the "Whats" in (2), Logic is learning where the lies are in (1), and getting things done is the struggle in (3).

Now I ask you, what aspects of school should still remain standing?

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 09-04-2016 08:00 AM

Poverty & Inequality

Its time we all abandon the idea that the poor are poor through some spiritual fault of their own. Indeed, there are many lessons the wealthier among us learn growing up which help them to do well in the world of business and government, but you have to trace the adults we discuss on a theoretical basis back to their time prior to birth.

The supposed wisdom of the free market is that by granting people choice, they will choose the best or the cheapest product. Thus, the pressure is on producers to create with efficiency or artfulness a good product to survive the competition of the market. However, when it comes to education, there is conspicuous little variety, and what little there is tends to be available only to the wealthy.

We mostly agree that access to education is a public good that, to a point, we all have a right too. Access to what variety there is however depends upon that ability of parents to afford the time or the money to make it happen. The extent to which this difficulty is imposed will of course depend on your political outlook, i.e. you opinion of the poor, but it is simply a matter of fact that difficulty is unevenly distributed.

I don't want to talk about funding, there are much more qualified people to argue about that issue. I don't want to talk about minimum wage, high tuition and exclusivity, or any other left or right wing approaches to this issue. No, I want to talk about how poorly everyone seems to define education.

We run straight into the root of the problem by starting at the most obvious starting point: "School is preparation for life". Now we debate endlessly about life itself... I don't want to involve myself in that debate either.

If we simply side-step the debate and remind ourselves that education is a process, then we can re-frame the question and ask, "what sort of end goal do we want to achieve?" Another way to ask that question is "what does the ideal human being look like?"

Let me stop this red herring before it gets started and once again clarify. I am not interested in promoting any egalitarian system where school seeks to make everyone equal. My ideal has nothing to do with money or career, or even the many ways people define intelligence or maturity. Rather, I want to discuss the issue of character. What qualities can we agree upon as idyllic?

Courage? Bravery? Strong work ethic? Patience? Justice? Loyalty? Intelligence? Creativity? Wit? Ambition? Resourcefulness?

Yes, that's right. I lifted that from the Hogwarts page on wikipedia.

My point is this, to what extent do we know how these qualities are attained? To put it another way, how would you test whether somebody had these qualities?

Let's start with Courage/Bravery. Lets say you are the victim of an oppressive rule and in spite of your lower status you speak in your defense to your oppressors. Has such a person demonstrated courage/bravery? Yep, its an out-of-school suspension for him. Now he's in even more trouble.

Lets go from here now. An interesting lesson has the chance to be learned. Standing up to your oppressors is indeed risky and may get you into a worse situation that before. In any case you must now accept your fate with patience. Perhaps you complete your suspension without being broken or made fearful, now its time to be resourceful.

Are any other people dealing with the same injustice as yourself? Perhaps you carefully identify and begin speaking with your peers in the hope that you can unite and bring an end to the injustice by forcing their hands to subject all of you to their punishment...

Let's take a few steps back and realize how improbable this narrative is in school, where many unjust and stupid rules are enforced regularly. One of the most important qualities of character, courage, if it does rear its head, is quickly stamped out by punishment. What child in school, younger or older, has the inner spiritual resources to see through the kind of campaign I just outlined? Oh, he may have developed the "patience" to put up with school because he has to, but would you ever say that somebody who complains of boredom has truly attained "patience"?

In order to attain these qualities, or test them, you need to be in a challenging environment. Schools in that sense are indeed a challenging environments, and dangerous crime laden schools are the most challenging environments. Why then does it seem that the kids from troubled schools don't go as far as the ones in "better" schools?

Perhaps it is because the challenges faced are not the challenges of one's own choosing. Who, after all, would choose to hang out with criminals and low-lives except criminals and low-lives if they had a choice? We may have outlawed redlining, not too long ago, but many very real barriers prevent people from choosing better company. And to what extent do children get to choose their parents? Who would choose slow, dim witted, cold, busy, overburdened parents? That's not even a question because, to a significant degree, we all have accept that as fate.

What else do we have to accept as fate? What do we not have to accept? Are any of these questions discussed in school? How do we overcome our own personal challenges? Or perhaps more importantly, how do we overcome that feeling of being less as a person because you are poor and can't afford healthy or enough food, or nice clothing? Better yet, how to avoid the arrogance that often comes with finding your way out of that despair?

Perhaps Dan Greenberg of the Sudbury Valley School has some kind of an answer to that, perhaps not. Perhaps John Taylor Gatto knows something. Perhaps nobody has heard either of these names. Perhaps people don't have the time or enough of a clue to find these names totally from scratch. Let's say you never saw this article of mine, how would you ever find out about these people? Would you watch the YouTube video "You don't legally have to go to school" by Boyinaband? Would you have found that video because after seeing the viral video "Don't Stay in School" from that same YouTuber, one year after its release, you suddenly have a whim to say "what else has this guy released lately?"

The increasingly improbable idea that a person working two jobs to make ends meat for the kid that some bum of a dad left her with magically discovering my posts on the School Survival Forums should not need to be discussed any further than it already has been.

There is a profound lack of sympathy or understanding as to why our society remains as fragmented as it is, why "good" education is so exclusively available to the wealthy, and why alternatives are not discussed widely enough for any of them to be easily discovered from the blank slate most of us carry on the topic of education.

Maybe its because anyone who has come up with a viable alternative does one or a combination of two things; (1) Only promotes their own idea or (2) has a huge mountain to climb getting meaningful attention to their ideas.

Indeed we have a lot of issues as a nation. Perhaps it is time we accept the fact that our schools are designed to discourage the very qualities in us that we as a people need to build a better future. Maybe we should try to do something personally about it.

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 12-10-2016 01:11 PM


Possibly the biggest and most important lesson school could teach you academically is the concept of "plausibility", the idea that information itself can be judged. When we discuss the idea, most of us apply plausibility often enough that we know, to a degree, it is legitimate. But, as we explore the concept more deeply, we come to find that you strike close to the heart of all thought and discourse.

It is good before reading this to have a basic understanding of common logical fallacies, but more importantly to understand the basic idea of Logic, that is, to be honest about the subject at hand.

The structure of plausibility is essentially this: that I have some pre-determined view of how things are, and based on my ability to work what you are saying into that view, I will determine to what degree I believe you. Everybody does this, and it is totally legitimate in and of itself. Where we get into the realm of blameworthy stupidity is when the predetermined view has not been properly thought through.

The process of learning, when it comes to the Humanities and Sciences, is that there is something you think may or may not be true and so you seek to find the answer. (1) Your starting point is your thought but (2) how objectively and honestly have you decided to go about your pursuit of the answer? The end goal is always for a clearer picture of the way things are, which sometimes means you have to adjust your view based on what you find. Somebody who has done this for a long time may look closed minded to a newcomer to whom an "answer" is asserted, and perhaps they are closed minded, but you can't know the truth by simply receiving the answer either. No, the real end goal is is theory, that is, an explanation of the information.

The explanation of how things are is your point of view which inevitably forms a lens through which new information is seen. The ideal lens sees everything that is on the other side of it with clarity without any blind spots. "Blind spots" here refer to those pieces of information which are judged to be incorrect or irrelevant by virtue of it failing to convince a believer. Now, we are all believers about one thing or another, but by what means did we arrived at that belief? And is our belief capable of integrating or explaining new information?

One of my favorite topics is the issue of evolution. Consider me, that I believe in Islam, that is, I believe that the Prophet Muhammad (saws) was the Last Messenger of Allah and that what he taught was the Truth with a capital "T". Part of this is believing that Adam (as) was extremely tall and without a mother or a father. I also believe that evolution is a possible explanation as to how things on this planet came to be, but not a necessary one.

A great red herring to these ideas is "science vs. religion" except that the problem here is actually two-fold: (1) the reasonableness of being Muslim in the first place and (2) the definiteness of the Theory of Evolution. In both cases I am expressing an opinion on issues which are essentially un-provable. So by what virtue do I say evolution is "un-provable"? It is because Logically, something can only be "proven" to be one of three things (1) necessary, meaning there is no other possible explanation, (2) possible, meaning it could be true, but alternative explanations could be true too, or (3) impossible, meaning that it contradicts all we know to be true so severely that it simply cannot be true. With regards to evolution, it is possible that as the world changed and developed it was modified in an active way by that same Creator we Muslims propose initiated existence. Just because it cannot be proven (3) impossible, doesn't make it true, and my belief in Islam is also not based on the lack of disproof. Where each of us lies here depends on how plausible we think the various explanations are.

Perhaps by this example, the fanaticism with which some of my opponents might label me unreasonable gains perspective.

So yeah, I believe Islam is true. I think evolution is possible, but it wasn't the case for Adam (as). So, just as it was for Adam (as) it could easily be the case for other aspects of creation, but I really don't know, hence I say "possible" instead of "necessary" or "impossible".

Imam Malik used to say half of knowledge is learning to say "I don't know". The reason is because it keeps you open to learning more and because it keeps you honest. Anybody who studies a subject with much dedication is at any point in time probably hitting a wall of some sort about which they might speak to you if you too are open to exploring the subject as well. A "wall" here meaning an unsolved mystery in the field.

Our prejudice about ideas can be warranted, but skepticism properly applied should not necessarily result in your ideas being preserved. On the other hand your ideas might be really fantastic and everyone around you is stupid. I don't know, but maybe we can explore that together...

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 01-01-2017 02:17 AM

Follow up on Plausiblity

So, I wanted to read up on Trump's pick for Education... thing... with the assumption "there is no way she is anything other than a douche bag."

I don't care enough about this argument to quote anything, so I'm just going to point out the things I noticed and open up the floor to anyone who wants to agree/disagree or bring in new information.

So the super rich tend to be scummy assholes who are perfectly aware of the incoherence and contradictions in their way of life, or they are complete morons.

Anyway, what she has done with her money seems to be to create a ton of differently named organizations all for the purpose of lobbying for school vouchers and other ways to route tax money towards private schools.

A few remarks on private schools. Private schools cannot be easily defined because, depending on local laws, they might as well just be public schools where saying no to who joins is easier. That is about as precise a definition as I can get for private schools because typically they are nothing more than a status symbol by virtue of how hard it was to get in or how much it cost.

Yeah yeah yeah some schools do a "good job", whatever the F that means... I am the only one I have ever heard who has an actual clear definition of what education is, and my voice remains totally obscure except for School Survival and wherever else I can put out there with my time. I am certain that my difficulties promoting my ideas is the very last concern on this lady's mind. Until I can convince the super rich to help me my voice will only be as loud as I can personally make it. I'm sure Dan Greenberg has similar issues.

Anyway, when the best school to catch the attention of rich alumni is the one where their rich kids went, its really frustrating to a social climber that tuition costs $50,000 a year. Crap, right? If only we could somehow get the middle class to pay for that.

Seriously, schools charge this much sometimes for shit that is basically free if only parents decided to spend time with and listen to their kids. It was according to John Taylor Gatto that his awards as a teacher he earned by simply applying some of the principles of these elite schools in his own curriculum (since they don't actually cost anything). That is the reality that all debate on education obscures.

We talk about freedom when it is politically expedient to do so, but few people actually talk about how to empower parents, especially those who are busy working long shit hours for hand-to-mouth at best. Kids, I think, have to get accepted to a superty-duper private school before a voucher would even be relevant right? Oh, they hand pick a few uncle tom families as a kind of seasoning to throw in with the white bread, but the whole reason regular school was created was to make sure people don't get too smart, and private school was created alongside by big money as a way to signal to club members that their kids are worthy of membership too.

So this whole privatization of school is only for the fact that the rat race gets expensive if middle-class tax money keeps going to the poor, the blacks, and the mexicans. No, lets create expensive, racist, "Christian" institutions called schools and then see if we can engineer a way to get tax money to pay for it. I mean, just think of the burden on all those sad white kids whose parents are only making $200,000 a year, gosh, darn.

School is also meant to keep black kids locked up (where they belong) because if you applied anything like the Sudbury model to the ghetto they would just use drugs all day right? This is actually the universal objection of conformist to the Sudbury Model, but I do feel there is extra nervousness about what the ghetto kids would do when given freedom...

Here's an idea, how about anybody in politics does anything ever to help the lower class? I guess it would make the money sad and the clowns on top nervous. If people became empowered it would threaten the existing centralization of power, and that is the last thing anybody wants to happen to their exclusive clubs.

Money very quickly goes to your head when you get anywhere close to the dollar amounts these people rake in. Once money is in your head you look for others as awesome as you and you quickly take it upon yourself to be a manager of society at large and try to influence politics with your awesomeness. You then find that others who don't share your values often don't share your awesomeness and so they need to remain marginalized so you can more efficiently exact the ends you've foreseen by your wisdom.

Enclosed is some George Carlin for you:

Watch on YouTube

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 01-02-2017 11:38 AM

the Lost Sunnah of Mashwara

Two major revivals of the Islamic tradition came out of 19th century India. (1) Darul Uloom in Deoband and (2) Tablighi Jamaat. I say this because the lost sunnah of Mashwara was revived by Tablighi Jamaat and it is through Tablighi Jamaat that I know about it.

Put very simply, a quote from Prince of Persia describes it. (A totally awesome movie by the way)

"A true king considers the advice of counsel, but always listens to his heart"

As it was taught to me, the etiquettes of Mashwara are like this:

We are to sit with humility. We sit and we listen to the Amir (leader). The Amir should ask for our opinions, but he doesn't have to. If we are called upon we should try to answer with sincerely and honestly. After the Amir takes our advice he should try to listen to his heart and decide what he thinks is best. If our opinion is taken we should not be proud for there may be some defect in it. If our opinion is not taken we should not be sad for the same reason. Whatever he decides we unite our hearts under his decision, and there are no "little Mashwaras" after to question or change the decision.

With these details in mind, I've suggested, and this is found in the Muslim tradition, that Mashwara is the way to manage in general. As the leaders of our households, men should run their houses this way as the Amir.*

My homeschooling plan is to conduct Mashwara with my family on a weekly basis once they are old enough to really get something out of it. (my oldest are currently three). The purpose of this Mashwara is to decide what we will be doing the following week. Everything from who is cooking, who is cleaning, what we are going to spend our time doing, what we are interested in doing, everything. Not in super-detail of course, but as a way of helping us organize our time.

Mashwara helps to inculcate as a habit, as a ritual, humility and sincerity which are the qualities sought by the 1st category. Both submission to the leader and regular seeking of honest counsel help build the foundation upon which all of life is built. That we spend our time working towards what our hearts desire is greatly aided by making children's concerns and interests a part of this regular counsel. It ensures that we remain a part of each other's lives as helpers.

This basic structure of the household in no way precludes the possibility of school since that is the best way to learn a number of different subjects, especially if no experts actually live in that house. It does however require mutual respect and will not work without it, and so forcing your kids to do anything they don't want may work for a limited time, but it will never work in the long run if forcing your kids to do what you want is the aim of your rule.

I have no idea what my kids will want to do with themselves as they get older, but I do know that I want to be a part of it as a guide and helper. I want them to make good use of their freedom by being involved with their interests both as counselor and by being present in the household physically and spiritually.

Work is a necessity for everybody, so for anybody who wants a better future for humanity you should know that the home is the best place to start. Its the one place you can most easily exert control. Work and money may be hard to come by, but sacrificing in the form of tolerating poverty or putting up with a well paying job you don't like may very well be a compromise you'll have to make in this effort. One thing is for sure, if you can't be a rock of stability in your own house, it will make growing up properly difficult for your kids.

Not everybody agrees with Islamic theology in that justice and good are top-down concepts that come through a pious person gaining by his effort and his sincerity the help of Allah which trickles down to all of those he is around. This is why, although I love the Sudbury style, I don't agree with democracy as it is a bottom up system whose rituals do not necessarily inculcate humility. What is funny though is that the basic respect of giving the vote to even the four year olds is actually effective enough in itself that the school has survived almost 50 years. I just don't agree that it is the best.

Consider now that what I've described in Mashwara is quite doable by even the most erratically scheduled overworked unschooling sole-breadwinner. It is not an institution, it is not a school, it is not even anti-school, but rather it seeks to make the man* of the house into an institution. We need not worry about the wasted potential of our kids in doubt of how well they will spend the freedom we give them, but to worry about whether we can become spiritually capable of leading them with what little time we do have. It does not require genius or even much intelligence, it only requires a sincere heart.

*Not to exclude single mothers or women in general, they can do this too. I know my wife exerts a lot of influence over me.

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 01-26-2017 02:56 PM

The Structure of Evil

The core seed of all evil is arrogance. It is a seed that sprouts and blossoms in different ways, but its ultimate form is idolatry.

Why do you worship something your own hands create? Something that cannot even sustain itself is somehow going to sustain you?

The common sense opposition to the idolatry of His time is what Ibrahim (as) said to his father who physically made idols. Naturally his Dad's response to that question was great anger. But why?

Worship is something properly done to something greater than yourself. Arrogance is believing yourself to be great. If something you make is worthy of worship, what does that say about you?

If this is the state of your heart then all of your love and all of your hate is pure and correct. To be challenged is to meet an idiot. To be questioned is to meet a rebellious fool.

We have seen in trying to negotiate with parents how deeply idolatrous they are when it comes to the school system. It only exists because we created it, we designed it, and furthermore everyone knows it is imperfect but the imperfection is "irrelevant", like the divine mysteries in religion. You simply must. You must!

School cannot give you a job, but it can stamp you culturally pre-approved, so that future "sustainers" will know you are not a heathen and therefore worthy of some worldly wealth as a tribute to your faithful (but probably hypocritical) worship. This is indeed how some parents view school, jobs, and employment.

Sometimes concern for your child's well being is enough to de-convert parents somewhat, to roam as a kind of educational agnostics. But frequently devout parents are shocked and appalled to hear the slightest inkling that maybe something is wrong with the way they and their parents were probably raised. That god has helped us all our lives, blasphemer!

So why would somebody create the school system?

Let us gather the nation into our minds. Everyone with their unique family history, their unique sources of income, their cultures, their worries, their fears... now let us envision a way to guide them all towards utopia. Also we won't offer them a choice or a voice. No, we by our genius will define all of the rituals, all of the content.

"One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all, and in darkness bind them"

The great evil villains of fiction and reality frequently have some kind of secret weapon, something that guarantees victory. But every machine has its weak points. Every institution has its cracks. The greatest power one can wield is that over other people's hearts and minds, to produce a culture. What we are facing with school is nothing less than a religion, a set of rituals and truth people find a comfortable peace with upon which they rely.

"I'm tellin' you these walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized."

When our Prophet (saws) went to meet Allah to receive the very special revelation of Salah, He (saws) was stopped at a point and offered two beverages, Milk or Wine. He (saws) choose Milk.

Let's think about Milk. It is natural. It comes very close to ready-made right out of the animal. Every mammal starts out as a baby with it, and most of us drink it when we are babies. It is filling, it is simple, straightforward, not particularly sophisticated.

Let's think about wine. It has to be crafted. You don't just have to pick the grapes, you have to juice them, you have to carefully ferment them, you have to age it, and even then you're not totally sure how it turned out until you taste it. You drink a certain amount and, depending on the person, you start to get drunk.

We are so preoccupied with carefully designing the best possible specific circumstances under which everybody can reach some potential we find important. We are like the spider, weaving increasingly intricate webs with much sophistication. The reality is that a single falling branch wrecks it completely. What we really worship is the idea. It fails because we failed it, not because it is a weak construct of our own incompetence, and don't you dare point that out!

I've heard it said, "you can change the world", to which I ask, "who says this is my world to change? There are a lot of other people living here too, shouldn't they be included in this?"

When your opinion of yourself is too damn high, you may very well seek to exact your vision of utopia upon others and make yourself the the judge of their piety thereby. No matter how hard we try to convince a person who does this it is the same whether we talk to them or not. If they disagree or dislike what you say it is to them a proof of your wrongness. Emotion reigns supreme as the pure human by their purity can detect wrongness, its content and its source are by definition deserving of dismissal without consideration.

"America is a big club. And you ain't in it!"

What we can do is recognize the opposite of arrogance, which is not actually humility, it is sincerity. See, the difference between somebody holding fast to the truth or falsehood is the most typical benchmark for arrogance. If you have come upon the truth, then you must hold fast to it, which will not have the appearance of humility to those who disagree.

Sincerity/honesty simply means that your rationale, your reason, is guided by a genuine desire to know. Changing your opinion is fine if that is what you discover is true, but ignoring objections and dismissing dissent is not the sign of a true seeker for such things are possible clues that the truth is elsewhere, which it might not be.

All of this is fallacy however, since we can't look at the structure of a person's reason unless we actually take the time to consider how they've arrived at their conclusion. To do that most effectively we must shut up and listen. This is what we will do in pursuit of the truth if we are honest. If we find some weak point in the argument we don't jump all over it to dismiss the entire person/argument, but we bring attention to it for clarity or correction, whatever is necessary. Only when you are willing to deal with the details can you properly arrive at a conclusion. If we are unwilling to pursue a discussion it may be a sign of our insincerity just as we know it to be a sign of other's insincerity.

The arrogant person is closed to all but similar to themselves. The sincere person is open to all and welcome by all, except idolaters.

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 04-01-2017 01:42 PM

Skepticism is not knowledge. casting doubt on a claim does not invalidate the claim.

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 04-04-2017 02:39 PM

You will know them by their opposites.

The enemy of the 1st Category is arrogance. Above and beyond any other, this quality prevents people from finding the truth.

The enemy of the 2nd Category is denial. To refuse to acknowledge insight of any kind is to ensure that what merit it posesses remains unknown.

The enemy of the 3rd Category is mindlessness. To act on base impulses and instincts is to lack discipline and excellence.

The height of corruption is that you assert yourself to the exclusion of truth, deny advice to the contrary, and act upon that lack of a foundation.

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 04-30-2017 02:25 PM


Something quite interesting about Alcoholics Anonymous was taught to me by a work buddy of mine. I like for math purposes describing him as follows: He was older than me when he got sober, and he's been sober for longer than I've been born. He continues to describe himself as a recovering alcoholic. I love that.

So inventory is essentially tracing the things you think back to their origins. In other words, how I've described the structure of human thought and action, you take some attitude of yours and ask yourself why you believe it to be true, exacting honesty in the way that only the Arabic word khalasa can incorporate. Khalasa means to be honest, to be sincere, to finish, to purify. Indeed when we are truly honest with ourselves we let go of ideological burdens, we solve a lot of problems that way.

I had to confront a few realities about myself lately, some of my ideas disappeared, but a lot of them remained. Let me explain.

I have a problem being really attracted to women and if I let myself my imagination runs. Because of this attraction it is very hard for me to take especially hot women seriously as people, as people with minds. This will continue to be the case. I don't think there is anything wrong with me. Some men can perhaps cope with female company, but this just doesn't work for me.

BUT, my prejudice against women was totally separate from that, and THAT has changed, though my social preferences will continue to be avoid women generally.

SoulRiser, the mother/daughter team who came up with the Meyer's/Briggs tests, the inventor of computer language, and the fact that Moses would not have been who he was without three very important women in his life, wasn't really quite enough to truly convince me of women are as capable of thought as men. Me being a man and being awesome was the foundation of this prejudice.

SO, I decided to finally listen to one of YouTube's suggestions and LISTEN, but not watch this video. Like I said, my eyes need to be ignorant of the lady for me to properly take them seriously. Besides, I can't really look much anyway while doing dishes...

Watch on YouTube

So it was interesting. My prediction about her tone and message based on her appearance was actually pretty accurate, which was why I never bothered to listen to her speech before because "I knew what it was about". Of course I didn't know what it was going to include and I thought this was a pretty interesting lecture from a woman.

I've found with my wife especially, there really does seem to be a difference between a feminine and masculine brain. Maybe its personality and not gender... idk tbh, I really haven't bothered to spend much time with any of those ideas. They don't really interest me.

So then I thought one good turn deserves another, so I listened to this video, again suggested by YouTube:

Watch on YouTube

I thought she was cuter and so I took longer to finally just say, alright I should probably listen to this video too. I found it fascinating to listen to a person who is basically an experienced unschooling mother whose mind is not keen on philosophy in any obvious way. She seemed like a plain lady that maybe just effectively reflected, or did inventory on her childhood and her ideas on parenting.

THIS, by the way, is why I say the true heart of an education is literally, but really metaphorically, the heart! Honesty really just means that your not going to believe something wrong. You will not let the impurity of stupidity or evil to corrupt your mind. You may not be stuck in your head like me, perhaps capable of writing several books maybe, but there is nothing in the way of you and competency except the opportunity to try. I really felt like a great chance to listen to a regular person just pouring a well cared for heart out. I listened to another one too:

Watch on YouTube

I think there are a lot of people like her, wise enough to not give themselves credit, not a philosopher, but honest enough to take benefit from anything good and true. Honesty/sincerity is the foundation upon which you work within wisdom or intellect, that is effectively differentiating between good and bad ideas. When somebody thinks taxing the rich less and taking away health care from the elderly and poor is a good and important thing to do, its not because their brain has a fail, it because the engine running that brain is a corrupted heart filled with too much of itself to allow other people's pain in. I think that is the great genius of Charles Xavier the symbolic character who literally can feel your pain. Those immune or apathetic to the suffering of others should never be in charge.

I think the natural inclinations of a women and a mother to empathize and respond to their kids needs is something some mothers get away from, but she actually listened to her inner voice and let her instincts command her instead of putting ultimately somebody else's brain in charge of which instincts of hers she would listen to or not.

By listening to these lectures I felt like I learned something about myself. I really need to value my wife more, and my daughter more, especially as my daughter gets older. I always assumed that my daughter would be one of those strong sharp ones that kinda wonders what's wrong with other women, but being completely fair, If I do my job as a parent even half-right, all my kids growing up in the US will probably look at almost everyone curiously asking "what's the deal with these people".

I am also even more confident in general human potential. Not because of the great things she said her son has done, but for the fact that somebody like her could just be easily dismissed, even by my supposedly genius dumb-ass, when what she has to offer humanity is extremely great. Regular people are still humans, and are far more important than any of them realize. For me, this just makes grading them ever, all the more heinous of a crime.

RE: the Analogist's Musings on Education - the Analogist - 05-24-2017 02:01 PM

the Jungian typology

I've though a lot about the Jungian typology lately. There appears to be a spectrum where Extroverted Sensation types, people primarily focused on the outer world processing by means of their conscious mind seem more likely to conform to whatever direction society goes in. And it seems that Introverted iNtuition types, people primary focused on the inner world processing by means of the unconscious, are much more likely to resist outside pressures to conformity.


Although various functions dominate leading to your personality being what it is, every person is capable of each function, though for some it might come more easily.


When you are presented with an opportunity to learn something, something perhaps that will change the way you think, Honesty, a function of character not of personality determines whether you allow yourself to be open to and surrender to the change in yourself.

Honesty is, like any faculty of character, (the Three Qualities), capable of being learned by any sane human. It has its rituals, one of which is sitting in a circle for Mashwara as described in a previous post. It is developed in intimate company IF you allow yourself the vulnerability of putting yourself forth in the Art of Conversation where the risk of talking means you may have to change what you think even after you've said something.

The rituals of honesty are not however part of any curriculum I've seen except in the tradition of Islam. Disclaimer: I am, like most people, limited by my time and place.

What we learn about ourselves by knowing our personality types is where our weakness are more likely to be since each personality trait leads itself to its own respective downfall. Perhaps in the psychology forum I will write my essay about the pitfalls of the 8 traits.