Friday, February 3, 2012

A Combination; What Do You Think?

I’ve been doing some thinking, and could use some help.
During recent years, even decades, I have been intrigued by two major ideas. I have done lots of reading, some writing, and a lot of thinking about these concepts and their implications and applications.
The first is in the area of the Supernatural; I am absolutely astounded, even now, about how intelligent, well educated and sophisticated people can believe in the Supernatural. That is belief in the existence of anything without a reasonable degree of evidence.  I find it amazing, and indeed unfortunate, that such an enormous amount of energy in our world goes to the ideas of supporting and promulgating the Supernatural. And by Supernatural, I  mean not only witches, magic, hobgoblins and Angels, but also God. I  have surely become an atheist, and find great satisfaction understanding that ideas such as God and  heaven, are myths; illusions. I have been exploring the idea of the effects worldwide of belief in the Supernatural, which are socially catastrophic; wars, murder, violence, torture, and more.  “My God is better than your God.” I feel an obligation to do something to soften the deleterious effects of Supernatural belief.
The second is the Learn to Learn idea, the subject of this blog. The importance of independent thinking, learning to be a bit skeptical and not simply accept values from an authority. Think of schooling as on a horizontal line.  On one end, let’s put almost all of our traditional approach, the general idea that “I know, you don’t; I’m going to tell you. On the other end, however, put the idea of Learning How to Learn. My point is that schooling  should move, at least a little bit, toward the Learn to Learn end. I’ll use a series of pairs of words to explain further. Education should be more democratic than autocratic, more collegial than hierarchical, more centered on how to think and feel than memory, more cooperative than competitive, more learning as a verb rather than as a noun, more the teacher as facilitator rather than the teacher as expert. The values, attitudes and skills associated with learning are not intuitive; but they can be learned and taught. (I recently wrote an article called “How to Help Your Child Become a Humanist” for the newsletter of the American Humanist Association. If you would like a copy, please e-mail me at edjohns@comcast.net)
My recent musings suggest that these two concepts, learn to learn and atheism can be put together. The major effect of learning to learn is to help kids become independent thinkers, and as such they will tend to be a bit skeptical of the authoritarian handing down of, among other things,  beliefs and the relevance of faith, which means belief without the need for evidence, 
What you think?

2 comments:

  1. Hie Ed; Let me first comment on the "natural". Even among scientists & philosophers there is debate as to the definition of "natural". For example, the scientific universe with physics as its foundation has no place for intrinsic creativity and aesthetics. "Mind" and "Beauty" are super-natural in a physical universe and are reduced.

    As to phenomena that seemingly contradict contemporary laws of physics, there is ample empirical evidence. "Skeptics" propagandize against these claims and refuse to engage in scientific debate with those who do the research. Unfortunately, there are many who sensationally make claims well beyond the evidence - and these are properly to be criticized by "Skeptics", as well as by the legit researchers.

    Actually, there is NO CONFLICT between these empirical phenomena and contemporary physical reality. The latter simply claims that physical laws explain reality so long as humans make no attempt to intervene.

    I too am disturbed by the flood of magical themes on TV, from vampires to children with special talents. This is a phenomenon that should be studied instead of protested against.

    There is a very significant distinction between the formal views of GOD & Religion, and the empirical existence of "spiritual" phenomena that cannot be ignored. And, the phenomenon of religion and the nature of belief and faith are topics for study - and there are many quality studies of them.

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  2. There is an enormous amount of excellent critique about education and many experimental programs. Each decade has a renewal of educational change. None that I know of are a complete solution, as I would not expect there to be. Your theme LEARNING TO LEARN remains a key theme, but it is but one of many variables needing attention to create a truly quality educational process. Other variables many need attending and synergize with L2L to bring L2L to the front.

    I have just joined a network of bright and energetic persons online who are trying to attend to all the relevant issues that face us. It is exciting and somewhat overwhelming. There is MUCH going on under the radar.

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