Because no-one else was
doing it. Okay, I didn't look all that hard, but I don't
think anyone else is doing anything quite like this site. I have long
been interested in the process of learning. I
have long been looking for something, some book, some site, that has
collected together all the information on learning and made some
unified sense of all the differing views and theories. As I couldn't
see that anyone else had done such a thing, I decided to do it
myself. I have gone on a journey of discovery about how people
learn, and I invite you to share what I have learned.
improve humanity. This
site holds, that it is the individual's most fundamental, god given
right, to decide what ideas should go into his mind. Down through the
ages, there has been a continual struggle between those who would
control others, and those who would break free and think for
themselves. When I was growing up it seemed as if a group of people had
finally understood the answer; that in order to become truly free, we
had to start with our youngest members, our infants, and provide
freedom and rights for them from the beginning.
What I did not understand is that progress goes
in cycles. The door swings one way and then it swings back. Ideas
develop and become more radical till they reach a point that the
society reacts against them, and then we again move back into a period
of repression. The world, the society, becomes progressive and
repressive, back and forth. The hope is that each time the door swings
a bit further forward and a bit less backward. Our hope is that we make
gains that cannot be taken away.
is what we see happening to learning. We cannot be sure that we will
win the swinging door struggle. Perhaps there is no winning to be had,
only constant improvement. Indeed as Popper says there is no perfect
system or utopia. The moment we think we are there, somebody will find
something wrong with it. The important thing is to continue to
struggle, and try to change things for the better. Perhaps now is the
time for the door to swing forward again so that the authoritarians
cannot take back the gains we have made, and so we might make some more.
Arrogance or Ignorance?
Although I cannot expect to compete with the great thinkers that are
presented in this site, I have had the audacity to try to amend and
extend their work in an effort to find common ground in their ideas.
Thus I invite any interested parties to share with me in understanding
an overall vision of what learning is. This site maintains that
schooling has little to do with actual learning, and that furthermore,
the degrees that people hold do not establish that anything has been
learned. This site is aimed at general thinkers who are interested in
development through learning.
In his book
and Addiction" Stanton Peele puts it like this:
(In Schools) "The rewards and
motivations are all pumped in from outside, rather than growing
directly out of the process of learning. Even if something is
intrinsically interesting to a person, studying it within a strict
curriculum and on the basis of a teacher's approval and evaluation will
quickly extinguish the person's desire to explore the material on his
own. A study by Mark Lepper and his colleagues shows that if small
children pursue some activity originally out of natural inclination and
they are then instructed and rewarded by a teacher to perform the same
activity, they will stop performing when the teacher, and the external
structure and approval he provides, are removed. Is it surprising,
then, that when a student emerges from beneath the sanctions of school,
he typically shows no desire to pursue the subjects he was taught in
that context? Or that few adults do any systematic reading for the
purpose of learning about something?"
Learning is what we all can do, and what we all do
to some extent without help. So I believe we are all qualified to
The primary aim of this
site is to present learning as the basis and root of memory, of skills,
of thinking and of all accomplishment, and to set forth an overall
recipe of what learning is and how it can be achieved. Learning, has of
course, long been studied by some of the worlds greatest thinkers, yet
it seems they each present a facet of learning leaving it obscure and
fragmented. Thus they fail to produce a much needed synthesis of what
learning is and how it can be accomplished. Here is, not only an
attempt to encapsulate the ideas of these great thinkers, but also an
attempt to weave those ideas into a cohesive, digestible whole, which
could be read and understood by the people
who need it most, the learners.
The second aim of this site
is to encourage people to believe that all people can and should be
able to be involved in, and enjoy life-long learning. That is to say
that all people should continue to be interested in learning deeply
about subjects of their own choice throughout the course of their life.
I once believed
wholeheartedly in the idea that people could learn by themselves
anything they so wished, and in a fashion better than it could be
taught to them. But it is a fact of life that we need others to
criticize our ideas and prevent our getting stuck in blind alleys. The
third aim of this site is to show that though learning can be
accomplished alone, it can be accomplished better with others. This
site holds that the two most requisite functions in learning are
cooperation and criticism, both of which require others. Thus it
follows that though learning can be accomplished in many ways that
there is an optimum and far superior way to do it that can be made
clear. Indeed the internet provides us with such an ability to interact
and inter communicate, so that it is making learning the most
significant part of its structure and function.
The fourth aim of this site
is to draw attention to the way in which technology is making more and
more knowledge accessible to all human beings especially through the
internet. It is about making known, how governments and big
business have combined to smother this alarming (to them) explosion of
knowledge. This aim is about making known the struggle surrounding
intellectual property. It is about the massive extension of the terms
of intellectual property especially in the USA that have caused a
drastic shrinkage in the intellectual commons (the knowledge that is
available to all people).
fifth aim of this site is to display these ideas on-line using the
mechanisms of the internet, so that other people can be drawn into a
dialogue about learning and contribute. I wish I had enough faith in
other people to install a wiki on this site so anyone could change it
and edit it as they liked. Although I decided not to do this I realize
many of the ideas I dreamt up myself to glue the ideas of others
together, may be wrong or at least imperfect and there may be better
ways to bring all this information together. Indeed I believe a better
synthesis could be made from the information about learning if a large
number of people, so interested, were to work on it. To this end I
would be more than happy to receive any comments, corrections and
rewritings of any of the pages. One way to do this is to just download
a page, rewrite a section of it that is marked, and send it to me as an
email attachment. Another way is to contribute to the
can you contribute?
Send me email.
Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
I will be most interested in any ideas about learning that anybody
cares to write to me about. I would also be most interested in any
criticism you have of what is on the site so far and any corrections
you think should be made. Feel free to download pages from the site and
rewrite them if that seems easy.
dialogue. Feel free to give your views free reign in the
forum. I will attempt to not delete any serious views.
Why the Web? When I started
this project I was quite young and computers were little heard of. I
had supposed that in my old age I would write a book and try to get it
published. With the proliferation of the world wide web however I
realized here was the perfect vehicle. On the web, ideas could be
viewed by as many people as are interested. It would cost little for a
domain name and perhaps it could be presented on an inexpensive server.
Most important though is the fact that on the web we could say whatever
we liked, as there is no one to censor it. In fact so many bizarre
ideas are presented on the web that this would be conservative by
Images. At some point I decided
that the site would be more interesting, more enlivened and more
readable if it had some pictures to break it up, and perhaps serve as
icons for the particular messages I was providing. I ended up using
hundreds of pictures and cartoons to illustrate the ideas, most of
which I have no idea as to where they came from. I just downloaded
anything that seemed to relate
to the ideas. I hope that, as this site is not for making a profit, but
rather to entice people to learn, that I am not violating anyone's
rights. If anyone is displeased by the use of their work I will of
course take it down.
The views expressed in this site, although for the
most part taken from the works of others, are ultimately my own and any
errors that remain are mine. There are however a few people who I would
like to thank for their contribution to this work. Both the people who
helped me most would no doubt wish to distance themselves from the
views expressed here, so let me say though they helped and contributed
these are not their views.
First, I would like to thank all the great people
who's work I have attempted to adapt to this synthesis and overview of
our understanding of learning. While I have tried to document and give
credit where due, it is possible I may have on occasion failed to do
so. If this is the case, I apologize and stand ready to correct such
omissions as are pointed out to me.
Secondly I would like to thank Richard Jansson for
his enthusiastic criticism and the many hours he has spent in arguing
about these ideas, thus enabling me to refine the ideas into a more
coherent and understandable whole.
Finally I would like to thank Mr. Leon McDonald,
who worked with me for a long time sometimes with disapproval, as an
editor to improve the structure, coherence and the understandability of
this work. His efforts have, I think made the work more acceptable and
understandable to both the ordinary person in the street and people of
a more scientific bent.