A problem is something which gives rise to human thought—such as a conflict between two theories, a paradox or anomaly. It does not only refer to ‘bad problems’—conflicts between people, problems that seem to make people miserable, things we would rather avoid. Anything sparking thinking, including enormously enjoyable thinking, like when you notice something and wonder about it, following your curiosity wherever it leads, is a ‘problem’ in this wide sense.
If you were in the American slave-holding South in the days of slavery, and a supporter of slavery was demanding studies and ‘evidence’ to justify your argument for ending slavery, would that not strike you as a highly immoral stance?
We really do learn from our mistakes, by trial and error. And at the same time we learn how little we know—as when, in climbing a mountain; every step upwards opens some new vista into the unknown, and new worlds unfold themselves of whose existence we knew nothing when we began our climb.
Even if childhood coercion has virtually no effect, it would not change what it is right or wrong to do to people. And it is not right to do things to people that will impair the growth of knowledge.
A discussion about Karl Popper’s epistemology, reason, the growth of knowledge, relativism and certainty.
An Objectivist reevaluates Karl Popper after discussions with Popperian people taking children seriously.
Children have to do what they themselves think is right, with no pressure whatsoever—that’s what non-coercion amounts to—but they also have a right to be told morality as best we see it.
Karl Popper’s theory prevails because it solves problems other theories of the growth of knowledge fail to solve, it is a better explanation than its rivals, and it unifies ideas previously thought to be unconnected.
Once one begins to see how extremely general this notion of conjecture and refutation is, then it begins to seem much more likely that learning always follows that pattern.
Understanding that knowledge grows through creative conjecture and inner criticism facilitates non-coercive interactions.
One of our best theories (the framework theory of evolution) is not scientific, but that it is none the worse for that. And all scientific theories rely on a philosophical framework.
Popper’s work provides an epistemological critique of the teacher-directed learning model, although it appears that Popper himself never made this connection.
There is no point demanding testability of an educational theory. What one can do with philosophical theories, is refute them by argument. Empirical testing is just one of a number of types of intersubjective criticism, and the vast majority of all criticism is by argument, even in science. Most scientific theories are refuted before they even get to the stage of empirical testing.
How you think people learn informs all your interactions with your children. If you view learning as a creative act in a critical-rational process, you will value highly the idea of consent in decision-making. If you believe people learn through divine revelation or by having knowledge poured into them, that will inform your interactions in a different way from if you think that they learn though conjectures and refutations: you may well think coercion necessary.
Traditional education can be looked at a massive, standardized operation aiming to stuff the allegedly passive bucket minds of children.
If I disagree with the substantive theory assumed by your word choice, you can’t expect me to build that substantive theory into my language, because if I were to, I would be being forced to lie or contradict myself every time I use your term.