Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Working to change things?: Showing ontological and epistemological appreciation

Venn diagram representing Classical Definition of Knowledge
Wikimedia Commons

In a discussion with Keith the affineur recently, he took the time to explain his position of "invitational development" more.

He used the concepts ontology and epistemology, and noted Marx' use of the philosophical branches (need to find more on this), to frame his point that we need to seek out an understanding of the "other", empathise with their situation acknowledging the limitations of all knowledge, and propose our alternatives non-confrontationally. He suggested that to propose an alternative to which the "other's" world view is put into fundamental opposition, is to be confrontational (even violent?), and likely non productive.

This conversation has come from the sentence in the opening paragraph I am developing for the OpenUC proposal.

Colored woodprint
by Samuel Coccius, Basle Switzerland. Wikimedia Commons
Here on 22 September, "Universities will need to go beyond the preservation of problems only they can solve", where I seek to confront the idea of a University, and put it in opposition with its own understanding of itself.

How might I seek to be more inclusive in the expression of this critique, and invite people (as opposed to 'Universities') to consider an alternative?

Perhaps, "People working in Universities may need to reconsider the nature of the problems they work to solving" gets closer, but now I realise that "People working in Universities" still situates an "other" and even an exclusive right to considering the question.

How about "we"? "We may need to reconsider the nature of the problems our Universities are set to solving"
I realise many will either think all this is just so logical, or even overly picky, but if they know me, they know I am confrontational... perhaps if it is possible for me to use this sort of pacifism, I will find new ways to make more successful change proposals, and even find more peace in my life! Yeah, I know, seems hardly likely.. :)


Michael said...

Could you just turn the original statement into a question? "Will universities go beyond the preservation of problems only they can solve?"

That way it's directed as a question to all and isn't so confrontational. It doesn't propose an alternative but it does invite discussion?

FWIW: I'd want to be able to read some practical examples right after the statement/question.

Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Michael! If I added practical examples directly after, I'd lose the tightness of the paragraph. Another footnote perhaps?

I've tapped into some researchers looking to prove general instances of HE teaching actually preventing people learning.. and sure to find good examples in their work.. but gets us back to the confrontational. Another example might be based around the clear majority of people going to university to obtain a degree in the quickest, least expensive way possible. But universities respond to this demand by making it more expensive, and crowding the curriculum with extra work - like general competencies etc... yet another would be notions of life long learning, interpreted by universities to mean cradle to grave education within institutions... how can I site these examples without stirring the wasps?

Keith Lyons said...


I am delighted we had an opportunity to start a conversation about this. I am mindful that we need to continue our dialogue. Your post has started me off on another journey.

Thanks for the affineur tag ...


Michael said...

Hi Leigh :)

RE examples, I guess I was thinking along the lines of:

Will universities go beyond the preservation of problems only they can solve?

* Will they stop ...(eg1)
* Will they change ...(eg2)
* Will they start ...(eg3)

But right - it might detract from the original statement/question.

RE citing the research, I don't follow why it's a problem? Unless the researchers themselves are very controversial for the people you're trying to challenge?