I started this site because I believe that modern education should be dynamic, interactive and personal. The “one-size-fits-all” model which is the pinnacle of traditional education is rapidly and loudly failing, and I still don’t see any workable replacement around. So I decided to take the challenge and do something about it. Let’s see where this goes.

One of my concerns about traditional education is that all too often lectures turn from “let’s try to understand how this works” to “please, I’ll say anything, just leave me alone”. Whenever lectures turn into arcane prophecy that must be repeated instead of an attempt to share and acquire knowledge and understanding, they become not only a waste of everyone’s time but actually detrimental to the intellectual and overall personal development of those involved. A lecture must make sense and whoever is watching should be able to follow the plot.

Apparently Albert Einstein once said that “if you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough”. This short statement contains a wealth of food for thought not only about pedagogy but also about knowledge representation, theory of mind and even epistemology. After all, how can you say that you really “understand” something when all you can do is repeat what you were told? True understanding comes when you can see beyond superficial shapes and appearances and forms and you gradually begin to formulate – or rather to sense – an unspoken structure beyond and outside of what you can directly experience, when you start to be able to fill in the blanks and read between the lines what you were not explicitly told. Understanding happens at that magic and elusive moment when syntax becomes semantics, when the cumbersome scaffolding of symbols and words and calculations is no longer necessary and can from then on be reproduced on demand as a mere expression of a deeper underlying truth. It’s the moment when you “get it”, when you get the joke and you feel authorized – in fact compelled – to smile.Education should target mostly and above everything to produce this kind of “oh now I see” feeling among students. If it does not, something very fundamental is failing. Maybe there was once a time or a place in which training – in fact encouraging – people to be willingly reduced to tools on a major scale was useful or beneficial for some arguably valid political, economical or social purpose. I would say that for a convergence of technical, anthropological, and both moral and practical reasons, this has no place in modern society.

And yet, so many of our standard educational practices and institutions still smell of this rancid modus operandi as their default pedagogical stance. Lectures, textbooks, courses, whole institutions too many times slip into – in fact often brazenly thrive onto – this “you’re not paid to think” mode in which you’re expected to shut up and “do your job”. But students are not a product to be manufactured. Schools are not factories. Classrooms are not assembly lines. This ideological encumbrance more appropriate to another era clashes with our current social and economic needs as not only oppressive and counterproductive but also (for those unimpressed with anything as immaterial and irrelevant as human happiness and fulfillment) a failing business model. Traditional education becomes more and more like trying to store, advertise, sell and ship defective plastic coasters containing information that can be downloaded in minutes to any mobile device, like going door to door trying to convince random people that they should really invest a huge sum to finance the slaughter of a small forest into a monument to instant obsolescence. Traditional education is each day more like loading Wikipedia and hitting “print all pages”.

Modern education must instead be dynamic, interactive and personal. It must embrace the fact that human knowledge and technology have now achieved such unprecedented levels of change and malleability and pervasiveness that instead of treating relevant information as a static object to be acquired or downloaded to our brains, we must treat it as a living entity we must learn to relate to. Of course this was always the case at some level, especially so for those following careers in scientific research, but there was a time when these movements and developments were so slow and impersonal that for most practical purposes and in most contexts we could afford to regard the target as not moving at all. Well, not anymore. We can no longer play the game expecting that everyone and everything will stand still while we aim. We now have to learn to aim where the ball will be.

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