SEP and virtual invisibility

The late Douglas Adams (1997), author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, uncovered an important principle relevant to educational technology–The Someone Else’s Problem (SEP) field. The SEP is a fictional technology that can make something “virtually invisible” because we think it is somebody else’s problem. It is not that the object in question really vanishes. It does not. It may in fact even catch you by surprise out of the corner of your eye. The idea of the SEP is that once we consider something as being outside of the arena of our concerns, that something, for all practical purposes, ceases to exist. The SEP may be a fictional construct, but something similar happens sometimes when educators meet technology. Consider for instance the following quote taken from a faculty member:

 I don't know a lot about the technical stuff of the computer. I
 don't feel like I want to know that, or need to know that.... I
 don't need to know how to compress stuff and, you know, other people
 can do that. That's not what I wanna do. I don't know how the
 telephone works either. Nor do I care (Dr. Shaker, interview, May 2,
 2001). (2)

Source: With a little help from your students: a new model for faculty development and online course design. (MATTHEW J. KOEHLER (1), PUNYASHLOKE MISHRA, KATHRYN HERSHEY, AND LISA PERUSKI)

Pluralism and scepticism?

Hume (Wikipedia)David Miller in Out of Error defines scepticism as “reliable (justified) knowledge does not exist” p. 136. In some way this scepticism and pluralism seem to be connected.

First picture is of different people debating some pieces of knowledge. No one could claim reliability for a certain piece of knowledge. These people must go on discussing about their knowledge. Some knowledge could be proven wrong.

You could not prove something to be true knowledge, but you could  prove it to be wrong. Hume has some words on this scepticism.

The pluralism is needed to discuss knowledge and to discover and weed out unreliable knowledge.

I need to think this over,

(picture: Hume (Wikipedia)



Pluralism Monism

scientificpluralismTzvetan Todorov  writes that the  most important democratic value is pluralism. Monistic societies and governments as are communism and national socialism are not democratic.  In education we should give pluralism an important place.

Maha Bali   begins her blogpost with the students need for different ways of teaching, for variety in structure of courses, and adapting to students preferences and needs.
But she the most valuable text of Maha is about cultural pluralism and respect. In Maha Bali’s blog about education she says:  But it’s in allowing the diverse voices within us to have a space (even if it’s an English-speaking space because it’s the only language we have in common) and voice, that alone helps to enrich the online space with the diversity that’s in it. Pluralism is a ways to foster learning and creativity and innovation.

Pluralism in education is a movement  that does not ask for teaching to the test and standard testing. It is about learning to live with differences in methods of teaching, about democracy and about pluralism as a key to research and learning.
Proposed Changes in Education (this is in a wiki about citizenship & diversity)

  • from formal to informal
  • from exclusive to inclusive
  • from restrictive to experiential
  • from instructionist to constructivist
  • promotion of knowledge building, lifelong learning
  • promotion of inter-generational knowledge exchange

I am not writing about religious pluralism. In the USA pluralism also is used to talk about racial matters. Both are important issues.

Tzvetan Todorov (Bulgarian: Цветан Тодоров)

Tzvetan Todorov (Bulgarian: Цветан Тодоров) (born March 1, 1939) is a Franco-Bulgarian historian, philosopher, literary critic, sociologist and essayist. He is the author of many books and essays, which has a significant influence in anthropology, sociology, semiotics, literary theory, thought history and culture theory.
I am reading Le Nouveau Désordre mondial. Réflexions d’un européen, 2003; Nederlands: De nieuwe wereldwanorde.

Todorov did write in 2003, about the Irak War. Now USA is starting  Syria war against IS, and the book could be written now.

Todorov schreef naar aanleiding van de oorlog in Irak, maar in 2014 is het bijzonder actueel tijdens de start van de IS oorlog van de USA (en andere landen).

“… schept de oorlogssituatie een bepaalde sfeer die niet erg bevorderlijk is voor de beklemtoning van de democratische waarde. … een drastische inperking van het pluralisme op het gebied van informatie … door zelfcensuur van de media… “

“… De aanscherping van de patriottische passies draagt niet bij tot de strijd tegen etnocentrisme en xenofobie, houdingen die allerminst democratisch zijn. … “

” … Waar is het goed voor om over een Europesche strijdmacht te beschikken? Ter verdediging van een bepaalde identiteit die de Europeanen waardevol vinden …. verscheidenheid … rationaliteit … rechtvaardigheid…. democratie … individuele vrijheid … laïcité … verdraagzaamheid …

“… The war situation (in USA) creates an atmosphere that is not very conducive to emphasizing the value of democracy. … A drastic curtailment of pluralism in the field of information … by self-censorship of the media …”

“… The tightening of the patriotic passions (in USA) does not contribute to the fight against ethnocentrism and xenophobia, attitudes that are not democratic. …”

“… Why is it good to have a Europe army ? In defense of a particular identity that Europeans find valuable …. variety … rationality … justice …. Democracy … individual freedom … laïcité … tolerance …

THOMAS FREEDMANN seems not to agree on the move from pluralism to less pluralism in the USA “… This is why America has such an advantage with its pluralism, ….” In his opinion Europe is less pluralistic than teh USA.


” … dasz die Entbarbarisierung heute die vordringlichste Frage aller Erziehung ist. … ” T.W.Adorno, Erziehung zur Mundigkeit.

(the most important question of education today is the de- barbarian- ization (or civilization)