Essay: How to organize learning?

This essay by Humberto Schwab was published in the book: Waar, goed en schoon onderwijs. Authors: Ruud Klarus & Fedor de Beer.



Philosophy is not an enrichment of a schools curriculum, not an addition to your personal development, not a way to motivate pupils or to connect the fragmented content that they have to digest all day long sitting in narrow school benches. Philosophy is essential if we want to cope with the challenges of today and tomorrow intelligently. Without philosophy, there is no education, or more importantly; culture making.

The word education points to a system which assumptions we have to reconsider. We see endless innovations to repair all the fallacies created by it, but they always leave the fundaments intact. Unreflectively. It is very seldom that we talk about the WHY and the HOW.

The term education points to an institute that selects the best-disciplined pupils to grow into higher levels of education. An institute that aims to reproduce an “industrial” system of knowledge “transfer.”

For the future that we face, knowledge creation, self-development, creativity, and Bildung are crucial. We have to put all efforts on the development of the inner soul of youngsters, germinating their passions, and their quests for life. Development of personality is not a private matter like the “industrial” approach frames it. It is a challenge of any culture to create a climate of growth towards balanced individuals.

Focussing on the growth of the souls of our youngsters in our everyday practice implies a whole new renaissance. Its focus is not economically but ethically. The Socratic Design method and the associated dialogues are one of the strongest organizers to realize this avoiding the system failures of education.


The society of the future

External revolution
The challenges faced by the educators of today are close to impossible. We talk about the switch from a big centralized “coal and steal” industrial oriented society with massive, standardized and disciplined workers towards a culture of small “peer to peer” interactions of creators and craftsmen.A transformation from heavy materials and hand-operated machines to graphene, and intelligent nanotechnology. From infrastructural giants to lightweight mobile communities. From cumbersome central and hierarchical structures to decentralized, horizontal dynamic unities.

The knowledge of the future is fundamentally uncertain and unpredictable. Only one thing is sure, and that is that we can NOT cope with the old “industrial approach” and its assumptions.

Internal revolution
The transition from an economy, based on private property to an economy based on the sharing of resources is an example of a paradigmatic culture shift. Children grow up with the idea that their toys will be passed along to other kids; owning property is no longer a value in itself. Successful apps designed to share your belongings free of charts emphasize this. For youngsters, sharing has become the new normal. The narrative of the empathic human is perhaps becoming more real than the one of Homo Homini Lupus; which we, by the way, lived for at least three ages.

The narrative of the empathic human by: Jeremy Rifkin who investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound waythat it has shaped our development and our society.

The dominant transformations are a consequence of the new information channels and everything connected to it, hyper-communication, big data, virtual reality, etc. Dystopia and utopia are continuously next to each other. Technophiles and technophobes go hand in hand.

We can’t predict what the future will bring us, isn’t that a chance?


The informational revolution

The revolution caused by new information channels is present in almost all segments of life, personal but also in business, education, and politics.
This revolutionary transformation hardly started, and we already see many old structures destroyed or in sudden decline. Today it is possible for a kid of twelve years old, to start a multinational business at home from his laptop. A brain can control another body part situated on the other side of the ocean. A mouse and a human being can connect to the internet and affect each other’s nervous system. How crazy do you want it?

Children have access to a wide variety of experiences on the world wide web just operating from their private bedroom. You can learn any field of expertise at home for free, build a violin by watching youtube tutorials and study quantum physics at the Kahn Academy. The Kahn academy shows us clearly how children learn; by mimesis.

We are at the beginning of the fourth revolution, the so-called information revolution. We are not any more “online” or “offline;” we are “on-life” we live in an “info-sphere” with new laws and assumptions. We have become information units. The question at stake is; will technology determine us? Or, will we determine technology?

How can we prepare our kids for the future when we have no clue what the future will bring us. Experts think that the digital natives, the youngsters of today, have a better view into the future than we do, we are the “digital immigrants.” However, this appears to be a fallacy, which identifies technique with culture. After all, knowing how to operate an iPad or how to build an app does not imply wisdom. An “Ipad school” is as stupid as a pencil school.

Can we think?

It might seem like our thinking is moving freely and independent, but nothing is further from the truth. Our thoughts are ingrained in our physical system similar to habits like smoking, mobile addiction, and alcohol abuse. The word “thought” is the past tense of thinking, and this is no coincidence.

When we are under the impression that we are thinking, we are mostly just rehearsing our addictive thoughts.

When we allow specific thoughts to come up, we experience rewards in the form of endorphin releases. In other words, we are addicted to our thoughts. Also, smart people are addicted to their (intelligent) thoughts, every time they repeat their ideas they get an endorphin shot as a reward, and they think “I’m a genius.”

On the one hand, our environment is a product of our projected thinking, and on the other hand, our environment determines our fixated thoughts. If I grow up in a culture where we regard men as sinful, I will internalize that thought. Youngsters will copy these old frames entirely; perhaps they get a new appearance, the basic views don’t change that easily. Therefore, youngsters aren’t necessarily better prepared for the future than we are.

We are living in narratives that surround us. We have to study for a good career. The idea of the central family is part of the story. So is the idea that your private life is shut off the public one (intimate secrets) and that you alone solve your issues. We believe in the narrative that we are liberated from the burden of religious constraints.

Implicitly there are much more narratives operating in us, the subconsciousness of a human being is a big black box. Humans are egocentric; they will attack one another when left alone. Abstract knowledge is more valuable than concrete subjective understanding.
Mind and body are separated. Facts represent reality; science reflects reality. Only what we observe is the real world. Only our cognition has access to the truth.Feelings are subjective and therefore irrelevant. The soul is invisible so not existent.

It is crucial to understand that fundamental pillars of our culture can be, or become, radically counterproductive. Nevertheless, we’ll keep reproducing them in our way of thinking; because we are addicted to them. We have to note here, that the absence of a solid collective narrative is not contributory to the elimination of old counterproductive patterns.

Confronted with booming technological and cultural revolution, we tend to eliminate the morals of our past cultures. The hippies started to bash religions and morality based on it; they thought it would set us free.

I agree passionately with John Dewey and Charles Tayler that we can not coach and educate young people if there is no common horizon of values.

Taylor shows how a meaningful life becomes possible only with a clear moral horizon. And, the beauty of Dewey is that he emphasizes the active role of the youngsters in creating these morals; they participate in a continuous process of dialogue with the prevailing culture.

The information revolution yearns for clear ethics and dynamic values. Tech determines us, and it should be the other way around.

In today’s society most forms of education function as a pool of fixated ideas, that embody the assumptions of far-reaching scientism and abstractism. Pupils that passively reproduce the material that passed already through countless minds. This form of education certainly does not prepare the youth for the future challenges; it did well for the past.


What is education?

What we should do is; prepare our children in such a way that they can creatively deal with human existence in any future. The current educational system seems to accomplish precisely the opposite. It acts like it has a blueprint for the future and prepares the kids for just that. It offers a fragmented view of knowledge, divided into manageable chunks. Fragmented knowledge for fields of expertise that no longer exists. It presents knowledge as logical, rational event abstracted to simple constructions that make it complicated for pupils to connect with the genesis of the idea or the theory. The division in fragments and hyperspecializations is a blockade for students to connect intuitively with the process of knowledge creation.

The system generates wrong mentalities that work contra productive. John Taylor Gatto beautifully identified seven of these assumptions that are locked in the classical design of schools. These assumptions originate in extreme right-wing traditions and are typical for the “industrial” society. If we trace back the history of them, we find that the Rockefeller family adopted a most effective system to discipline people. They used methods of the Prussian army to prepare workers for their factories and further exploited and applied these methods in education.

The assumptions that John Taylor Gatto identified:

  • The pupil is disoriented by the system.
  • They accept that they belong to a social class.
  • The system makes pupils indifferent.
  • It makes pupils emotionally dependent.
  • It makes pupils intellectually dependent.
  • Pupils develop self-esteem that is dependent on confirmation of third parties.
  • The system emphasizes that the pupil is continuously observed and monitored.

A five hour interview with john Taylor Gato in which he go's deep into the history of education

John Taylor Gatto who is an experienced teacher with more than 40 years in the field knows what he is talking about; nevertheless, many think he is an extremist. Unfortunately, most people who talk about education have little experience in the daily practice, and many cherish nostalgic memories of their own time in school. Education is a loaded subject, and many can’t distance themselves from their own experiences when they deal with the topic. But, almost no parent has experienced one day in the actual schools of their kids.

The knowledge the pupil gains in one hour of class is limited, and most of the teachers will admit this. Many activities that the teacher performs are peripheral actions that prevent the teacher from creating true knowledge with his class. Ask your child, what he or she learned in class, you’ll be amazed about the incompetence of the situation. Not just the pupils are rundown after a day at school, teachers as well only from keeping order.

Pupils are clueless about the phases they are in, the routes they follow, the overall goals of the of the school, not to speak about why to learn what they learn. The normal response of the pupil to the perverse fragmentation is to focus on the short-term planning of homework and weekly assignments. Because of this short-term focus, the pupil becomes dependent on the organization of the teacher. There are examples where pupils may not work ahead on the rest of the group because it will confuse them, or – worse- the teacher.

The intellectual dependence becomes clear when we see that all subjects and themes are entirely fixed and prepared. The teacher decides what happens when it happens and how. The teacher premakes all steps taken in the thinking process, the pupil only has to fill them in. The students have to copy the teacher’s way of thinking blindly; what and how does “he/she want me to think.”

John Tailor Gatto points to the dramatic indifference the children develop towards the knowledge handed to them. The most important thing is to become disciplined. Therefore the center of attention is not on the knowledge the school offers, but on the regulations and timetables. When the bell rings, students drop their work and run off to the next class, whether they were in flow or not.

Also, the continuous external judgment on everything the students perform prevents them from developing the healthy ability of self-assessment. The ability to asses oneself is probably one of the most critical aspects in the life of a successful entrepreneurial personality.

At last John Taylor Gatto uncovers the strategies teachers employ to seduce or better put, force the students into a seemingly willing and motivated group. Charming, emotional blackmail, psychological manipulation, and coolness are just a few of the misplaced ingredients used to stay on top of the non-natural situation in which twenty or even thirty adolescence are put together in one classroom.

There are many great initiatives in the world of education, even within the walls of the classroom teachers can deliver excellent performances.

The point I want to make is:

When we organize education fundamentally differently, moments of excellence can become the rule and not the exception. The meaningful moments created right now are despite the system and not thanks to it.

Teachers that know how to shape situations positively are highly skilled magicians that know how to keep the “system” out of their classroom. The teacher that follows the regulations, ideologies and the methods of control that are in place can hardly ever have meaningful interaction with the students.


Fragmentation in the system

The educational system like we know it in most of the world embodies different organizations, physical places virtual places and persons to run the show. The ministry of education, inspections (in which nobody is learning) pedagogical institutions and centers, schools to become a teacher, labor unions, administrative organizations and much more.

All these components perform specific tasks, goals, and values that lie in their field of expertise. It all comes together in ONE school. The regulatory power manages this assembly is legislation. The different institutions all have their objectives, responsibilities, and approaches towards the school. An inspection will always look at the qualities of security; the trade unions demand better working conditions, the employers want better ranking results for their schools, etc. This colorful whole is of course hardly a unity. When I speak to a headmaster of a school, a teacher an inspector or a trade union employee I can expect completely different answers to the question; what is good education?

Aren’t we making the categorical mistake of Gilbert Ryle when we talk about education? A girl is taken to a procession by her father, but she comes home disappointed. She witnessed the float, the majorettes, the flag bearers, the drummers, and the police car, but not the procession. Every time she pointed out one of these items it was not the procession. The procession does not exist as an ontological unit it is only a term that points to a collection of items.

Similarly, we use the term education as if it points towards a coherent unity. Education needs to be innovated; education must guarantee better quality, education must prepare for the future, education is the basis for economic growth, etc. To which component of education are we referring when we make this kind of statements. It is essential to be aware of this abstraction, after all, most policies, analysis, and laws are made assuming education as a unity.

In reality, none of the components in the system can ask the necessary questions, because there is no central “place” or theme in the fragmented organizational structure.

A child that attends education walks through such a wide variety of departments that it is logical that he or she does not experience unity in the program. In abstraction, it is all one, but in reality, it is impossible to unite everything in a coherent whole. Imagen that your family is getting governed by ten different organizations. All with different goals, and regulations, and all with their vocabulary and values. Cooking, eating, playing, sleeping, caring, everything is organized separately by other players with their own goals. In reality, this leads to an awful fragmentation that ruins your education. But, on drawing table of the minister of education, it seems like the kids score good points in a wide variety of activities.

A pupil attends between ten and fourteen different subjects, developed in various fora, which sometimes have a mutual relationship but usually not. It remains challenging to teach carbon chemistry in chemistry class logically timed so that in biology class they can use it at the same time for biochemistry. At the moment that history class deals with the history of the Republic, there is no link with the social studies focussing on democracy. Even within subjects, things are often fragmented. The university’s physics department wants something about crystals in the program, but the energy physics department also wants to be in the textbook. There are endless meetings where the different parties debate their interests, and finally in the textbook of the student appears a little bit of everything. Half a page of text with new terminologies about the complicated matter without a clear context can easily lead to misunderstandings and confusion for the student.

A scientist always develops such theory based on concrete observations. Explanations of the developed views follow after a long struggle with the subject matter. A crucial moment in that struggle was the formulation of the right question. This kind of creative process in which the scientist develops the formula F= m.a leads to lots of contentment and a deep understanding of reality.

In 99% of cases, the student learns how to do the trick, and answer the questions asked of him or her without a real understanding of what the hell it is all about.


Learning to ask questions

The art of asking the right question lies at the root of every scientific discovery. Why are leaves green? Why do things burn? Why do we have blood? Why does everything change? These are simple and important questions that children ask themselves naturally when they look at the world around them.

We could define philosophy as the art of questioning. The art of questioning includes the research of assumptions. What do we assume when we say “Good morning?” We assume that it is morning and that the other is in the same time frame. It is good. The other can hear you and understands the language you are speaking. It is a polite thing to do, and the other will respond with; good morning. We acknowledge the other person, and we can go on like this…

The art of asking questions and the research of assumptions is in the hart of learning and development. When you craft the right question, you are already solving the problem. Philosophy is the mother of all science, not because she is the source of all answers, but because she is the art of questioning. And, every child has the lust to ask questions. Knowledge starts with a fascination for the things that you encounter and a motive to understand them. Ones a pupil asked me a question that demonstrates this lust for life; why don’t we learn how to live?

Newtonian Physics
The mechanized world in which we live, we owe to the genius that asked the question; Why doesn’t the moon fall on the earth? Isaac Newton was able to think from scratch while everybody was wondering whether the earth was turning around the sun, or the sun around the earth. By asking the right question, he opened a field of knowledge from which we still benefit.

In your average school, pupils learn about the theory of Newton in half a page of text. Unfortunately, they never get proficiently taught how to ask questions about the world around them. Without the struggle to understand something as concrete as the mathematical formulation of physical powers, the formula F=m.a can become a problematic abstract blockade.

When we go back to the genesis of the formula, we find exciting stories about how Newton created insight in the matter. It was a fascinating process of knowledge creation. He ultimately abstracted his understanding of the subject in a mathematical law. In most textbooks, this whole process is abstracted to a few sentences. Presented as a piece of knowledge that is simple to digest, the entire context of questions and experiences from which the theory could evolve is left out. What is movement? What is matter? How is science organized? What is an atom? Etc.

What is knowledge? & Can it be transferred?

Ask the head of school; what is the core activity of the school? He will probably answer; knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer is an interesting misunderstanding, with several assumptions seldom reflected upon:

  • Knowledge exists.
  • Knowledge is transferable.
  • It is transferable from one person to another.
  • The class or the school is the right environment in for knowledge transfer to happen.

If we look at the first assumption, we are in the midst of epistemological dynamics of philosophy. In this branch of philosophy, the leading questions are: “What is knowledge?”; and what is reliable knowledge? “. Philosophy is pre-eminently focused on research into knowledge, finding the sources of knowledge and testing the validity of competing claims to truth. A short explanation is required here.

For Plato, the knowledge that we have about the world is a vague unclear and incorrect vision of human beings shaped by our observations. What we humans see with the senses is utterly dependent on the structure of the senses, and therefore it is not knowledge of what is really out there. Perception, which is the source of knowledge for many people, delivers unreliable information, delusions and erroneous images (dogma).
Knowledge of reality (epistemè) is accessible through “the eye of the soul” and becomes visible after prolonged exercise and training. It is not an actual thing or entity; every time again it will be a hallucinatory event or rather a spiritual experience in which we make contact with the truth.

In the eyes of Aristotle, knowledge is crafted in the process of perception and logical reasoning. Knowledge you create yourself, and it all depends on the way we deal with the impressions and observations. You can not transfer it; one can only prepare for a process of knowledge creation.

Renee Descartes
For Renee Descartes, knowledge is the whole of innate concepts awakened in one’s memory triggered by the observation. The perception itself is entirely vague and doubtful, but the thought that arises in the mind is sharp and distinct. The ratio generates knowledge, hence the name rationalism for this approach. Essential for the approach of Descartes is the “Cogito” which means “I think.” The self-directed mind is the source of real knowledge.

In the approach of the empiricists, the passivity of the mind and the activity of the senses are emphasized. Information about the world we obtain through our senses, and everything that is present in our mind is based on our sensory experience. In their philosophy sensory experience is the source of knowledge. We validate reality by checking whether or not it corresponds with our observations. For the empiricists and rationalists knowledge transfer is something that occurs in a process in the individual mind.

Logical positivism
The logical Positivists describe reality as the whole of statements about facts, and all logically based statements. In this view, the fundamental assumption is that facts exist. Facts are situations in the world that exist independent of our human judgment or observations. We establish truth by investigating whether a statement about a fact or a state of affairs can be verified; an objective judgment is valid when this seems to be the case. The testability of sentences determines whether or not sentences are correct or meaningful.



In everyday life including education, knowledge is commonly understood as a collection of statements that correspond with facts. The excessive focus on facts results in an undervaluation of everything that is not observable and measurable; these things are subjective and insecure and of a lower order than factual knowledge.

In most educational institutes this positivist view is dominant. Not explicitly, but it is tacitly present in the subjects they offer. How do teachers think about knowledge? And, which implicit opinion do they carry on to their pupils? If we examine the final objectives of subjects taught, we see that the fact-oriented view is omnipresent. An over-accentuating of the so-called factually-based assertions, “measuring is knowing.”

Do we teach the pupils the objections that come with our theories? Do we give insight into the genesis of our theories? Do we offer a competitive theory? Again; if we look at the final objectives of the schools we see that there is no room for reflection on what knowledge is.

Also, many skills that pupils learn are linked to the positivist philosophy. The tendency to test everything by looking at the observables is based on a very narrow view of learning. A young football talent would never become successful if he trained in the conventional school method of testing and exams.

Philosophy can be clarifying for pupils just by offering awareness of the different approaches to knowledge. It might just be the case that pupils do not understand certain things because they intuitively have a different image of what knowledge is. Many students have a different epistemological intuition than their textbooks writer. In a philosophical understanding of learning and knowledge, we can become aware of this.


Knowledge and facts

Identifying facts is not as easy as it seems. It appears that the world doesn’t exist independent of our interpretation. Karl Popper ones famously said to an audience of physicists; “OBSERVE!” The slight panic that arose in the group was a demonstration of his view that facts are loaded with theory.

Without theory, there is no observation, without observation no facts.

A fact derives its meaning from its context; this can be among other things, a cultural, a moral or a scientific context. The Inuit will not understand the phrase “the snow is white,” after all, they know fifty words for fifty different types of snow. That John did a fantastic “flip over handstand” is a fact for a trained skater. That the earth and moon fall towards the sun in a gravitational field, is a perception that is presupposed in the gravitational field theory.

Knowledge is NOT a collection of facts. Theory is an essential part of it, but also, acts, values, thoughts, and feelings are crucial facets of the creation of knowledge.

That we need a combination of these aspects to generate knowledge is fairly well illustrated in the case of the craftsman. A few woodworking techniques can easily be taught. But, the knowledge to create a well-designed piece of furniture is an interactive process between the inner world of the craftsman and his material. Likewise, we only become acquainted with the information about Newtons laws if we have internalized it in the process of creation.

Michel Foucault demonstrates that it is complicated to distinguish the knowledge itself from the subject that it is dealing with. Knowledge is one integral-system, which directs our expectations, values, and experiences of truth.
Differently put, knowledge includes the boundary of what it allows to be part of it and what not. It is a mechanism of exclusion for that what is apriori not accepted as knowledge and a mechanism of inclusion for that what is accepted as knowledge and what can be considered as “truth” within the particular context.

The paradigm theory of Thomas Kuhn shows us that knowledge is not objective and certainly not based on a fundament of solid facts. If a scientific community of psychologists and psychiatrists adopt the assumption point that only empirical research will lead to valid results, then the empirical or evidence-based method will be valid in that community. As a result, all invisible inner, not observable phenomena will be discarded as irrelevant. In psychiatry, this so-called “evidence-based” approach has led to a drastic increase of prescribed medication for psychological dysfunctions.

Also in physics facts are created in and for specific contexts depending on its goals and values. In quantum physics, light is approached differently than in the classical light theory. An even stronger illustration of how facts correlate with the common views and beliefs in society is in the economical “science.” Gross domestic product (GDP) is in monetary economic theories the main point. In other approaches, we interpret it as the distortion of the internal social relations in a country. We can either take a countries currency as a starting point and measure its economic growth by the amount of money earned. Or, we can choose to make the growth of peoples well being as a measurement. The word “economy” literally means “taking care of one’s environment.” We see again that it all depends on how we interpret care, how we define the facts is thus also a matter of values and goals.

Knowledge is never free from assumptions, and always connected to a community and its culture and morals. In the political theory of John Locke having property is the highest value. Because of this view, entering ground that belongs to someone else is a deadly crime for which you can be shot dead, legally. In most European moral systems the highest value is the human being. Therefore it is in Europe impossible to shoot someone in the name of justice, even in your own garden.

Knowledge is connected with values, truth criteria, and procedures. It is difficult to localize it as a self-containing unity that one can pass along from one person to another. It is impossible for pupils to understand things that are presented as a whole of facts while they are a collection of interpretations. The most knowledge presented to pupils is after thorough abstraction completely detached from its context, and the context is essential in for the understanding of the whole.

The subject of history is a tragic example of fragmented and abstracted knowledge. The pupil has to process a collection of so-called historical facts. It remains unclear to them that it is just one possible view on the past. To create the canon of national history, there was a long struggle between national historians about what story is appropriate and which facts support this. To the pupil, this carefully crafted “story” is presented as a factual representation of the history of his or her country. The pupil ends up with a misleading viewpoint that does not encourage him or her to engage in the subject and formulate one’s view.

If we want to teach pupils about their countries history, we should enrich them with different viewpoints, contradictory stories, and beliefs. It is motivating for a student to do research and formulate a correct interpretation of history. In such a way the student is creating knowledge! The claim of validity then becomes part of the knowledge creation process. This way of learning is fully linked to the content of subject without dividing it into separate forms of learning techniques, skills, and strategies. The pupil investigates the assumptions present in the subject and makes his or her validity claims. They are philosophizing and practicing the art of asking questions, an activity essential in the process of knowledge creation. This kind of process includes questions like: “What is history?”, “Does objective historical science exist?”, “What is a fact?” etc.

Classes in social science, geography, biology, economy, all follow the model of knowledge transfer, in which they transfer something to the pupil that may not even be valid knowledge. The economist Tomas Sedlaczêk shows us what disastrous presuppositions are present in the current economic theories because economists continuously come up with new theories and models to fit their needs. Above all, he makes us aware that according to the founder of economic theory Adam Smith; economic theory is a moral theory, that aims to sustain a healthy moral society. The book of Tomas Sedlaczêk is a falsification of all standard economic theory, an exciting form of knowledge creation. He doesn’t transfer knowledge he motivates the reader to create his own.

The conductor Bernard Haitink ones responded to a spectator who expressed his gratitude for witnessing a perfect execution of Mahler’s symphony; “You have created the composition in your own experience.”

Nevertheless, many students still reproduce statements about the economy that do not adequately approach economics. We see what disastrous effects these misinterpretations have on our society. Yet, it takes decades before education changes its choice of content. This incompetence of the system to respond to the state of affairs is proof for the categorical mistake called education and the “addictive thoughts” that it reproduces.

Knowledge does not solely embody facts and interpretations of facts; it also incorporates feelings, preferences, and methods to determine the validity of the content. Following this interpretation, knowledge is not transferable. It always contains syntactic and substantial contents, i.e., the procedure of the validity and content of the knowledge. It is not a rational cookie that can be transferred from the one mind to the other.


Knowledge creation

Knowledge includes – as Aristotle already stated – the capacity to initiate intelligent interactions with materials and situations in the outside world. You cant learn to ski well as a result of the transfer of some piece of knowledge. You must create that knowledge in your body and mind. You create intelligence with your body mind and soul to initiate and fulfill successful interactions with the world.

Knowledge transfer is, therefore, a vague and impossible concept. It is impossible because first of all, it defines knowledge incorrectly; as a whole of statements about facts. And secondly, what we identified as a good definition of knowledge, can not be transferred. Wisdom comes to being in every individual as a result of interaction between the self and the world around it, both materially and spiritually.

Generating an experience that demonstrates the law of Newton in a pupil acquires an open situation that invites the student to ask questions. Operating with this Socratic method enables the student to understand what it truly means to research masses and physical force.

Although philosophy can have corrective effects on the current fallacy of knowledge transfer in education, a meaningful organization of learning is only possible if we take the human capacity to create knowledge as a starting point. All knowledge that exists can follow after that first moment of asking the questions.

Philosophy is the “condition sine qua non” for learning.


An open situation to learn


Socratatic  Dialogue

A second fallacy in the system is that the human being is perceived as a “cogito,” isolated in its ratio. All thinking we do and all knowledge we build and put into practice is a phenomenon that rests on dialogues and social practices. Knowledge creation and the conditions for it are incorporated into communities. The child grows up in the relationship of its parents; this is necessarily a moral relationship of love and empathy. Along the way, it absorbs all the practices, rituals, emotions, and meanings of the community.

If we follow neurophilosophy, we see that the human being is a dialogic being, which establishes intelligent practices in interaction with others. This in accordance with many dialogical philosophies (Martin Buber). We exist because of the dialogue with the other; these experiences form the basis of our existence.

The Socratic Dialogue (as practiced by Humberto Schwab) is a disciplined dialogue method that transforms a group into collective intelligence. In the process, the group builds up a body of knowledge as a result of step-by-step argumentations in answering a self-imposed philosophical question. A discussion is forbidden in this method; it’s about listening to the deeper meaning of what is said. In a Socratic Dialogue, we practice the “art of listening. ”

Real listening is very rare in our everyday lives. When we observe discussions and meetings, we see that most people rehearse their thoughts over and over again. A context that enables people to listen can help them to become free from their addictive thought patterns.

The method assumes that everybody can philosophize about questions, provided that we rigorously examine erroneous assumptions and eliminate our usual rhetorical powerhouses.

The dialogue is an investigating of your presuppositions which is one of the most difficult and painful tasks, at the same time it is an investigation of our culture. Know yourself, and you know all of humanity.

The Socratic Dialogue is a joint effort to find the truth.

The moderator ( a philosopher ) is a necessary authority that guarantees the execution of the method. He or she can understand all contributions (philosophy is the totality of all possible and impossible thoughts) but never contributes to the content of the dialogue. The moderator facilitates an optimal philosophical context in which the contributors can think creatively. In the deepening of the philosophical questions, we touch questions from the world of culture, morality, and science. The Socratic dialogue generates universal respect for each of the participants and provokes the best abilities of each. The possible topics in a Socratic Dialogue are endless; it can be a scientific matter, a design proposal for the city of the future or it can offer a more existential insight. In these creative processes, we link with the body of knowledge that already present in society. The culture and its assumptions are embodied by the participant.

The disciplined method is necessary to avoid superficial interactions and senseless discussions. Thanks to this truly open situation participants can thoroughly investigate and answer every type of a question that is important to them. An important aspect of the dialogue method is that the participants develop a strong motivation to think together. While learning the community is the key to understanding.

Many companies use the Socratic method to empower the collective and create knowledge as a team. It is successful because the tacit knowledge that wouldn’t reach the surface in typical debates or discussions will give surprising new insights.


Socratic Design

The Socratic Design method of the philosopher Humberto Schwab is a philosophical tool to create complete future realities, cultures, good and meaningful practices or products and services. It is a process of knowledge creating that starts with a strong moral horizon in the group, an in-depth analysis of the present assumptions and the created scenarios always match the authentic values of the group. In dialogue with others, we can establish a set of values and design our desired moral system. By jointly creating a value horizon, we can free ourselves from ego preoccupations.
It also offers frame from which we can asses established knowledge and experiences, independent of the old context.

The Socratic Design method explained

Within the Socratic Design context we can examine the assumptions associated with systems and practices, for example, the school and assessment practices, how does it affect the students and is that the desired effect on their learning experience. In the Socratic dialogue, we develop profound knowledge on the subjects we deal with. Based on success stories of the contributors, we design possible new experiences and scenarios. Ultimately, the group chooses one approach (a paradigm) and works on an analysis and a new strategy to create a new scenario. The values of the group are the criterium for them in the reflection on the process and in the assessment of the final results.

Applying this methodology school is no longer the guardian of the past but a creator of the future. In the Socratic practice, rigorous and honest questioning is the beginning of knowledge creation, and morals and values are always in the center of the design process.

Philosophy is not a correction on incompetent practices: Philosophy is at the beginning of the knowledge creation process.

If we start with exciting questions like; “who do I want to become?” Or better put, “what is my future in the world of tomorrow?”. The system doesn’t have to be regulated: the students will arrange the research themselves.