What do you mean by ‘problem’?

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.

Free to learn: the immorality of compulsory schools

The school system isn’t wrong in the sense that it’s further from the truth than Karl Popper. It’s wrong like the Catholic Church was wrong in refusing to accept Galileo’s heliocentrism and in locking him up so as to protect their worldview.

Fallibilism as a way of being and acting

People sometimes say explicitly that they are fallibilists, but inexplicably they are ‘saying’ that they are infallibilists. They say people are fallible and not omniscient, but they act as if they think people see the truth yet are wickedly choosing evil.

“What if…?” questions revisited

Losing sight of others’ good intentions is a mistake. Reacting badly, as if truth is obvious and we ourselves are in possession of it, tends to be coercive.

If criticism is valuable why not be more critical?

Subjecting anyone of any age to coercive education (unwanted criticism) is not taking them seriously. Nor is it even taking the valuableness of criticism seriously! Let alone taking the growth of knowledge seriously.

Surely criticism is always good?

he idea that criticism of others is always good is a mistake, just like it is a mistake to think that education is always good. It may be good if it is wanted, but not if it is unwanted. Coercive education is not and never has been Taking Children Seriously.

Is it necessary to reject authority?

Knowledge is conjectural, and we are all fallible. When everything is open to question and we do not hold anything or anyone as an authority, we are free to correct errors that otherwise would have kept us stuck and miserable. Yay!

What is Taking Children Seriously?

Taking Children Seriously is a new VIEW of children—a non-paternalistic view: like other groups of human beings, children are people, not pets, prisoners or property. Full people whose lives are their own, not a different kind of person – full, equal humans who should no more be coerced and manipulated and moulded and shaped by others than we adults should be.

Clarifying Karl Popper’s epistemology

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.

Educational theory: science or philosophy?

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.

Unschooling and Karl Popper

Popper’s work provides an epistemological critique of the teacher-directed learning model, although it appears that Popper himself never made this connection.

Philosophical theories are refuted by argument, not empirical tests

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.

The education of Karl Popper

Although Popper is not commonly regarded as a writer on education, in The Open Society, he develops a devastating critique of our academic tradition.