How to make learning exciting

Death of Socrates by Giambettino Cignaroli (National Museum, Budapest, Hungary)

For thousands of years, in nearly every culture, clime, region, and country, teachers at all levels of education, students from primary through post-graduate education, and their individual and collective society have been taught that there exist “basic truths” that are “immortal” and cannot be changed by any mortal.  What these people have been taught by clergy, politicians, and educators has been and remains at best a fabrication.  In reality, is a lie. All things have always, do now, and will change in the future.  What is considered true today was heresy in the past, and may be considered fantasy or shortsightedness in the future.  What was passed as truth (such as the Ptolemaic Theory {based on the writing and astronomy of Claudius Ptolemy (Greek: Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, Klaudios Ptolemaios; Latin: Claudius Ptolemaeus; c. AD 90 – c. AD 168), a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek:  the language of the educated class}, on astronomy, based on the geocentric model (also known as geocentrism, or the Ptolemaic system), is the superseded theory, that the Earth is the center of the universe) has been proven false by Nicolaus Copernicus (German: Nikolaus Kopernikus; Italian: Nicolò Copernico; Polish: Mikołaj Kopernik; who was known in his youth as Niclas Koppernigk; born February 19, 1473 – died May 24, 1543).  Copernicus was the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe and thereby challenge church teaching.  The Roman Catholic church demanded he recant and destroy his works or forfeit his life; he obliged weakly, prohibiting the book to be printed until he was dying.  He saw his finished work shortly before he died, knowing that he had proven Ptolemy wrong and that all things, including “defined truth” is relative and all things will continue to change.

Anaximander (Ancient Greek: Ἀναξίμανδρος, Anaximandrosc. 610–545 BCE; he was the first Greek to write down his philosophy) was correct in declaring: “Everything changes but change itself” from which Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος ) created his doctrine of change being central to the universe.  Heraclitus became famous, in time, for stating the obvious but that which others could not or would not understand: “You cannot step twice into the same stream [or water]” (ποταμοῖσι τοῖσιν αὐτοῖσιν ἐμϐαίνουσιν, zτερα καὶ ἕτερα ὕδατα ἐπιρρεῖ) as the water is never the same.

Educators are now, as they have always been, more preoccupied about keeping a job than truly working at motivating their students to study, learn, understand and use knowledge for their own well-being and the advance of civilization. This was the case in ancient Athens, although one man, Socrates, rejected the idea and argued the education came with questioning everything.  This resulted in Socrates being tried for “corrupting the youth” and the City Council of Athens ordered Socrates to remain silent and never encourage his students to question everything.

Socrates knew that without questioning everything there is no learning as there are no absolutes in the world and definitely none in education and learning.  When Socrates would not be quiet, the City Leaders ordered Socrates to commit suicide, basing the verdict on two notoriously ambiguous charges: corrupting the youth and impiety, but charges that a majority of the 501 dikasts: Athenian citizens chosen by lot to serve as jurors, accepted and voted to convict him of committing.  Some knew the charges were untrue but dared not stand and denounce the proceedings.  What worried the leaders of Athens was the fact that a teacher, a philosopher, Socrates by name, exposed the community leaders ignorance and debunked their reputations for wisdom and virtue by his questions (Read:Plato. Apology, 21d-e, 23a, 23e).

Socrates accepted the jurors’ judgment and verdict, in testimony to his personal belief and affirmation that all people must be subservient to the state “because the rule of law must supersede the desire of the individual”.  Socrates drank the hemlock and a prolonged death that slowly crept through his body as he walked around his lecture chamber he succumbed.

My argument is that Socrates was wrong: he should have questioned the misguided judgment of the Council, refused the hemlock and escaped Athens to continue to encourage people to learn. The one drawback with my argument is that if he had not done this, Socrates would not have been a martyr, and without his death he might have been forgotten. It was because of the death of Socrates that his student and disciple, Plato, wrote about his professor’s acceptance of death and with that made Socrates a martyr to education.

While I admire Socrates, I would not do the same thing, because, for me, continuing teaching even in exile, affords the opportunity to encourage others to question everything.  Thinkers (philosophers, politicians, religious leaders, and so forth) of note have argued for generations that the leaders of every society seek a passive people who willingly submit or subject them to the authority of the state or religion without question by enslaving or murdering the people who questioned or defied their leaders and attempted to rebel or escape the unjust rules.  Most leaders chose annihilation of entire villages and even nations. But there was one ruler who had a different approach when he conquered new people and subjected nations not under his control.

The Cyrus cylinder, an ancient Akkadian cuneiform script proclaiming Cyrus as legitimate king of Babylon.

He learned early that the quickest way to win their affection and loyalty is to give them food: wheat, barley, and, other staples and grant them forgiveness in opposing him, letting them maintain their old gods and forms of worship, but educate their young according to the new order.  This unusual monarch was Cyrus of Persia who left instructions on melding conquered people into the empire, not by slaughtering or enslaving them. His work, when published in the eighteenth century CE was read and used by Thomas Jefferson of the Colony of Virginia.  Jefferson took parts of Cyrus’ book when he was tasked with writing the US Constitution (Read: Boyd, Julian P. “The Papers of Thomas Jefferson” on-line at (the original copy is in the USA Library of Congress)  http://www.archive.org/stream/papersofthomasje015727mbp/papersofthomasje015727mbp_djvu.txt). The United Nations has declared the relic to be an “ancient declaration of human rights” since 1971, and the British Museum describes the cylinder as “an instrument of ancient Mesopotamian propaganda” that “reflects a long tradition in Mesopotamia where, from as early as the third millennium BC, kings began their reigns with declarations of reforms.” (Ref: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/c/cyrus_cylinder.aspx). Cyrus’ work was distinctively different from the early Renaissance tract of kill them all (a phrase used by numerous Middle Eastern nations throughout their blood-stained history) as “the end justifies the means” (attributed to Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (May 3, 1469 – June 21, 1527) from his book Il Principe (written c. 1513) {see: Strauss, Leo (1958). Thoughts on Machiavelli, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 297)}; it was actually first said by Ovid, Heroides, ii. 85: exitus acta probat; Machiavelli’s use, correctly interpreted means: “My aim for greater good makes all the evils I have done right.”).  It continued to plague Europe and filtered fast into the north where nobility were on a constant war footing, and while a one-time monk never cited Machiavelli by name, his works reflect the thesis of the Italian philosopher.  The monk was Martin Luther who had total scorn for Jews, the poor, and the peasants whenever they demanded rights or took up arms to defend themselves.  These people, the future leader of the Lutheran Church would call “the rabble” (Martin Luther; cp. Niekisch, E., Deutsche Daseinsverfehlung, Aufbau Verlag, Berlin, 1946; Hanstein, von W., Von Luther bis Hitler. Ein wichtiger Abriss deutscher Geschichte, Dresden: 1947; cf. http://www.projektwerkstatt.de/religion/luther/luther_vorbild.html in German) and his thoughts became the foundation for the pogrom pushed and preached by the Austrian-born Adolf Hitler. 

History shows that passivity, unwillingness to take part in the political process no matter how marginal, and submission leads to the rise of dictators.  This is true of such tyrants as Charlemagne (German: Karl der Große, Latin: Carolus Magnus or Karolus Magnus, 742-814 CE who was beatified on his death by a court bishop, which was later confirmed by Pope Benedict XIV and was canonized in 1166 by Antipope Paschal III), Napoléon, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, Alberto Fujimori, George W. Bishop and Tony Blair, and the Tea Party of Dick Armey, James Inhofe, James DeMint and the Koch Brothers.  In each case, these

Countess Elizabeth Bathory (age 15)

men and women such as Marie de Valois, Elizabeth of Hungry (Countess Dracula Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian, Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak; 7 August 1560 – 21 August 1614) who began to murder virgin girls, up to 650 young females, after her husband was killed in battle; she was the original and titled “Dracula”; read: Nemere, István (2009). Báthory Erzsébet magánélete. Könyvmolyképző Kiadó, and Dvořák, Pavel (1999). Krvavá grófka: Alžbeta Bátoryová, fakty a výmysly. Slovart), and Margaret Thatcher who waged war over the Falkland Islands to save a herd of goats, while further impoverishing the United Kingdom in the name of conservatism, have covered the light (deluxe) of learning in favor of external tranquility while society recoils and retreats into an academic and societal Dark Age.

No topic should be taboo, forbidden, restricted, or censored for any student. What is incumbant is that teachers need are trained in the art of leading and facilitating inquiry. They must be subject-matter experts: not only proficient in their own fields, but knowledgeable in all other fields and have the ability to intertwine both arts and sciences into their curriculum as did the Renaissance teachers who were truly uomini universale

The art of mastering knowledge and wedding arts and sciences, all disciplines, falters and is destroyed by those who use one book exclusively as the text, or fear tredding away from its words as if each word is gospel and cannot be challenged.  The weak teachers preach one message–that being determined by a board who may or may not be competent in the specialty of the teacher or who are weak in the knowledge of the area.  These men and women who teach to earn a living but not to educate their wards seldom if ever entertain a plethora of opinions, seek a multiplicity of responses and encourage each student to participate auricularly and write original compositions.  They fail to question reasoning, demand full citations of two or more sources (no single source is valid as it can be biased, distorted, convoluted, contrived, and misapplied) and investigate the sources veracity and credibility to understand if it is presenting reality.  Too many teachers are like Copernicus who had a provable hypothesis but were in terror for their position so do not question for fear of expulsion or being ridiculed. Worse yet are the teachers who require papers, glance at them, put a numeric or alphabetic score on the paper but do not spend the time to read and mark the papers for errors or infractions of judgment or miscitations, and seldom look for deliberate plagiarism.  For example, to claim that Justin

Latin text allegedly from St. Justin Martyr: "Beati Ivstini Philosophi & martyris opera omnia," (1554)

Martyr is a true spokesman of the early Christian church (that used Greek as its official language for all communications until the days of Jerome, yet Justin wrote in Latin) and writes about the death of Jesus is fraud of the worse kind; it is the acceptance of a past pronouncement of someone untrained in philology or calligraphy or other sciences that determine the authenticity of documents. 

  Justin Martyr (103-165 CE) was a chrestiano (a person determined to be martyred and one who identified with the apocalyptic wars of Revelation, anticipating and expecting the return of a warrior god (the word “messiah” means “warrior”; cf. Apology 2:12, cp. his death in J. Quasten, Patrology vol. 1, p.196-7.) not a christiano who was waiting for a returning spiritual savior).  Justin Martyr’s Latin commentary on the crucifixion does not follow any other ancient text; he  used the Latin word crux, which means  cross–a word that is not found in the original Greek scrolls, nor does the Latin word crux detail an event that would have been common in the days of the Jesus of the New Testament.  It does not depict the same event in the same manner  as in the fragments we find tje σταυρός [stake] which was a more common means of execution.  Thus Justin Martyr’s use of crux is not what educated people who would enter the emerging church that was founded by the Emperor Constantine in 322 CE as christianos would read in vulgar Greek by Xenophone,where the text is clear, cogent, concise: Ποιος είναι ότι που είναι σχετικά με το να αντιμετωπίζουν το ποντάρισμα ή λιθοβολισμού.  It is not even syntactically correct, for what Justin wrote his commentary in Latin in the second century CE (two to three or more generations after Jesus died applies more to the chrestianos than to the christianos–two groups of believers: one in a warrior Jesus, the other in an apocalyptic forgiving Jesus. Yes, Justin’s death is recorded in Irenaeus (2d century – 202 CE,  Adversus Haereses (180 CE) I., xxviii. 1 but the account by Irenaeus was written more than a generation after Justin was allegedly executed by being beheaded, and later by Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220 AD; a Carthaginian who never met Justin [he would have been too young] in his Adversus Valentinianos.

The Bible, as I have written at length, was originally written in Greek, and it does not appear until the fourth century (at the earliest: 331 CE; cf. Eusebius, Vita Constantini, IV,36-37 sq, ref. Novum Testamentum Graece ad Antiquissimos Testes Denuo Recensuit, Tischendorf, Editio Octava Critica Maior, Lipsk 1884, vol. III, p. 348) and then only under and because of the commission of the Emperor Constantine who used the title pontifex maximus until his death, a title emperors bore as heads of the pagan priesthood, as would his Christian

Codex Sinaiticus (an early 4th century Bible prepared by the Arian Bishop Eusebius)

successors on to Gratian (reigned. 375–383 CE) by Eusebius bishop of Caesarea who was the first Greek to recognize Justin in the fourth century (cf. Eusebius, Εκκλησιαστική Ιστορία (Historia Ecclesiastica), iv. 18). This limited background can promote debate.  If the debate turns sectarian, the responsible teacher entertains all viewpoints while requiring each student to explain why his or her concept/belief is valid. This will require legitimate research and syntactical training by language experts as well as encourage the study of languages, linguistics, philology and more, including at the minimum a thorough and carefully detailed and vouched

Earliest Lord's Prayer (Egypt, c. 350 CE) lines 13-19

analysis of sources, and a presentation of concrete and coherent facts that present all sides (thesis and antithesis) before reaching a synthesis (basically, the rule of Thomas Aquinas who argued Veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus (“Truth is the equation [or adequation] of things and intellect” and comes from the Greek Apophatic theology (from the Greek ἀπόφασις from ἀπόφημι – apophēmi, “to deny”) that Plato initiated in his (Πολιτεία, Politeia or The Republic 508d-e, 511b, 516b).

The same is true with politics (or any other controversial subject such as human sexuality that was not openly discussed until the middle of the twentieth century)–generally taboo in most educational environments where tranquility is prized more than research by inquisitive minds seeking to advance learning and society. 

“Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophise, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils,… nor, I think, will the human race.” (Republic 473c-d)

Plato defined “philosopher kings” as “those who love the sight of truth” (Republic 475c), and to ensure that tyrants, dictators, mass-murderers and those given to graft with unscrupulous courts and spies do not rule or advise.  Plato recommended that schools be set up to teach genuine education: knowledge of the past and present with understanding of how the future can be bettered. 

In Phaedrus (276 c) Plato criticizes the written transmission of knowledge as faulty, favoring instead the spoken logos since later generations may translate what is written but misinterpret it in favor of a contemporary definition out of keeping with the original intent: “he who has knowledge of the just and the good and beautiful … will not, when in earnest, write them in ink, sowing them through a pen with words, which cannot defend themselves by argument and cannot teach the truth effectually.” At the same time, what is fit for one generation may not be fit for a second or third or later generations since time does evolve; thus, the man who turns to paramilitary forces to silence (usually by death) dissenters will do as told but they may easily erase the intellectual saviors of the day as the leader might be a tyrant seeking only to rob the national treasury and enrich the leader’s family.  This remains de jure as long as real schools of interpretation do not require students to do more than learn how to translate from one language to another.  The expert interpreter must know the culture, customs, idiosyncracies of the language to be interpreted; all aspect must be respected, anticipated and used to give a valid periphrastic epexegetication.

The actions of the leader like the actions of the teacher who is the leader of the young into the world of the future must be scrutinized as well as the word, for words can be feigned or false while actions are certain. To solve the problem of interpretation of what is written or said, Plato offered a solution: the dialectic.  Plato’s dialectic is the process of eliciting the truth by means of questions aimed at opening out what is already implicitly known, or at exposing the contradictions and muddles of an opponent’s position. It is the teacher’s responsibility and avocation to find out what is confused, contradictory and muddled (strangled with nonsense and without empirical evidence) so that learning can take place.  (For a different reading of social and economic processes in the Nicomachean Ethics and Politics see Polanyi, K. (1957) “Aristotle Discovers the Economy” in Primitive, Archaic and Modern Economies: Essays of Karl Polanyi ed. G. Dalton, Boston 1971, 78–115).

Where I part with Plato, and find him to be blatantly wrong, is Plato’s consistent expression of  hostility to observation and experiment. He taught contempt for the real world and disdain for the practical application of scientific knowledge, yet it is through science we learn of the things that make up the real world and enable mortals to see what the man can differ on if the mind is allowed to expand beyond the fantasies of the past and travel beyond the temporary truths of the moment. It is through observation we can tell what exists and what is temporary, and it is through repeated experimentation we can find out if what was assumed correct remains correct or changes, transmogrifies, or abandons its original foundation.  To be true, something must be consistent, it must be repeatable, it must be verifiable and it must hold up to anyone’s analysis, investigation, and research.

In Aristotle’s work entitled Πολιτικά (Politics), Plato’s student, Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BCE) considered the city to be a natural community that he considered to be prior in importance to the family, which in turn is prior to the individual, “for the whole must of necessity be prior to the part” (Politics 1253a19-24). He argued that “man is by nature a political animal,” and taught that politics is an organism that grows, diminishes, expands, and takes on different characteristics rather than like a machine that merely functions according to the plan that created it.  For this reason the “state” (πόλη or city) is a collection of parts none of which can exist without the others.

The function of the city/state was to be a political “community” or “partnership” (κοινότητα or koinōnia). The city’s aim is not just to avoid injustice or for economic stability, but more so to allow at least some citizens (since all cannot be helped simultaneously) the possibility to live a good life, and to perform beautiful acts: “The political partnership must be regarded, therefore, as being for the sake of noble actions, not for the sake of living together.”  This is distinguished from modern approaches, beginning with the social contract theory that will go beyond Aristotle and require that society work for the good of all (cf. John Locke, who incorporated natural law into many of Aristotle’s theories and philosophy and then expanded upon them, using them as a foundation cornerstone on which to build a stronger house in which all of mortal kind can live and benefit; see, especially, Locke, John (1689). Two Treatises of Government(1689), and read also: Ashcraft, Richard. Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1987, the on-line edition at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7370).

John Locke added a twist to the concept of government, arguing that if the ruler went against natural law and failed to protect “life, liberty, and property,”  (the foundation for the Constitution of the United States of America) people could justifiably overthrow the existing state and create a new one–as the French people did in 1789.  John Locke viewed “property” not only as land and goods, but uses the word property in both broad and narrow senses. In a broad sense, it covers a wide range of human interests and aspirations; more narrowly, it refers to material goods. He argues that property is a natural right and it is derived from labour), according to which individuals leave the state of nature because of “fear of violent death” or its “inconveniences.”

While Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Martin Luther argued that the citizen was obligated by moral/religious law (Luther cites St. Paul in his An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation [1520]: “Address to the German Nobility”, and, later, in his Von den Jüden und jren Lügen; in modern spelling Von den Juden und ihren Lügen,is a 65,000-word antisemitic treatise written

Einblattdruck mit Darstellung der Wittenberger Judensau (Wittenberg: Wolfgang Meissner 1596)

in 1543,  the former Augustinian monk turned pastor and husband of a nun gave and in fact instructed, commanded, and ordered the German nobles to take violent action against anyone who disobeys them or the German [Lutheran] church.  Far more vitriolic, Luther wrote, a few months later: Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlecht Christi (Of the Unknowable Name and the Generations of Christ, in which he equated Jews with the Devil.

From his earliest days as a seminarian (in keeping with sixteenth {and earlier} century German psychology of the clergy and upper-class {aristocrats} was openly hostile toward German peasants (Deutscher Bauernkrieg).  We read of his hatred for the people who toiled for a bleak to a modest living on the large estates of the German nobility in Martin Luther’s Wider die räuberischen und mörderischen Rotten der Bauern [1524] and ) that the peasants, to be truly saved, must follow their leader(s), both civil and religious, regardless of the quality of the leader(s) or righteousness of the leader(s), Jews had to convert to Lutheranism or die, and those who did “evil and wrong things” including not marry, not paying tithes to the State Evangelical (Lutheran) Church, rebelling against local lords or taking up arms against nobility or joining the forces of other doomed protesting prophets as would come in the form of Calvin, Zwingli, et al., or honoring Protestant pastors were guilty of crimes against Jesus. 

Luther commanded the German peasants to denounce, renounce, fight against and avoid their homespun preacher, Thomas Müntzer (ca. 1489, born at Stolberg, Saxony-Anhalt – 27 May 1525) , an apocalyptic apostle who used Daniel 2:44 to base his theology (antecedent to Adventists, Pentecostals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as more modern groups such as Heaven’s Gate and Camping), denied infant baptism, transubstantiation (the Roman Catholic position where the bread and wine physically turn into the body and blood of Jesus and stay that way forever) and consubstantiation (the Lutheran position where the body and wine become the body and blood of Jesus for the faithful while attending worship services), and did not accept infant baptism or confirmation.  These “innovations” Müntzer denounced as “inventions” by the wicked who strayed from the true teachings of Jesus, even after capture and being grotesquely tortured before he was decapitated.  So fervently did Müntzer believe in the Babylonian legend of Daniel, that he saw his own death as being one that would open paradise for him.  Thomas  Müntzer  followed the theology of the chrestianos movement, noting that Jesus said he came to bring a sword, not peace as found in Matthew 10:34 (read: Rosellini, Jay (1978). Thomas Müntzer im deutschen Drama: Verteufelung, Apotheose und Kritik. Verlag Peter Lang, and Bloch, Ernst (1960). Thomas Münzer als Theologe der Revolution. Berlin, Aufbau-Verlag; cp. Engels, Frederick. The Peasants War in Germany. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1956, p. 70; cf. Stayer, James M. (1991). The German Peasant’s War and Anabaptist Community of Goods. McGill-Queen’s University Press), that he had no problem with fighting back–but he could not wage his holy war alone. He turned against Luther with several anti-Lutheran writings, and supported the Anabaptists (for runners of the American Baptist community that has changed dramatically from a sect that wanted isolation from government to the current brand that insists on lowering the wall separating state and church. In the Battle of Frankenhausen, Müntzer and his farmers were defeated.  Claiming that the god of Luther would show no mercy and demanded vengeance, the Roman Catholics who held him prisoner, forced him to “reconvert” to Roman Catholicism and then accepted the Roman Catholic mass prior to his beheading in Mühlhausen in Thuringia on 27 May 1525. Under torture he confessed that he believed that omnia sunt communia, that the people should share “all things are in common.”  He was one of the forerunners of communism that Marx and Engle would write about, but his belief was firmly based on Acts 2:44 and 4:32 which is pure communism and was the foundation for the early monastic communities for monks and nuns.  His head and body were displayed as a warning to all those who might again preach treasonous doctrines.

Map of the Peasants' War (1514-1600)

Later, Luther later adopted some of the rhetoric of Müntzer when he came out against the peasants.  Angrily, Luther wrote:

The peasants have taken upon themselves the burden of three terrible sins against God and man; by this they have merited death in body and soul… they have sworn to be true and faithful, submissive and obedient, to their rulers… now deliberately and violently breaking this oath… they are starting a rebellion, and are violently robbing and plundering monasteries and castles which are not theirs… they have doubly deserved death in body and soul as highwaymen and murderers… they cloak this terrible and horrible sin with the gospel… thus they become the worst blasphemers of God and slanderers of his holy name” [in Wider die räuberischen und mörderischen Rotten der Bauern]

John Locke

John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) did not accept such a debasement of mortal kind as did the continental reformers three generations before his time, and four generations before he began to write. Instead, the English philosopher and physician who was regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers expressed an opposite opinion.

Locke declared that under natural law, all people have the right to life, liberty, and estate; under the social contract, the people could instigate a revolution against the government when it acted against the interests of citizens, to replace the government with one that served the interests of citizens. In some cases, Locke deemed revolution an obligation. The right of revolution thus essentially acted as a safeguard against tyranny.  Locke was one of three of the British Thinkers that Thomas Jefferson turned to and quoted from Locke when writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of what would become the USA (“The Letters of Thomas Jefferson: 1743-1826 Bacon, Locke, and Newton” on-line at http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl74.htm, note especially:  “Bacon, Locke and Newton, whose pictures I will trouble you to have copied for me: and as I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical & Moral sciences.”).

For educators to avoid controversial subjects limits and belittles true education, but at the same time the teacher must know the limits of the students’ desire to learn, advancement in academia, and receptiveness to new ideas.  While more challenging questions can be asked of a more enlightened, more learned group of students, it is risky, at best to attempt to enter serious conversations with those who have not been exposed to more than a mere memorization of material without having been instructed in critical thinking, analysis and interpretation.  What is imperative is that all schools, at all levels, initiate classes in critical thinking, analysis and interpretation so that their students are not left behind in a world of half-seen images as reflect on Socrates’ Den (Cave; Book X of The Republic) but learn how to break free from their chains of limited learning to march past the fire casting the shadows on the walls and into the sunlight of knowledge (γνῶσις) and wisdom (σοφία as fortified by the God Saa of ancient Greece, or the “rays of light” (נקודת אור) as invoked by the Samaritans and ancient Hebrews (cp. the Arabic Qur’an [Surat al-Baqarah: The Cow] 2:269) and is found even in the teachings of The Buddha: Sutta Nipata 261.

One comment to How to make learning exciting

  • Michael  says:

    Again, a well documented blog. Unfortunately, very little about education other than a history of same.
    keep writing!

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