Date: Jan 9, 2013 7:27 AM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: 'Learning+teaching': the core of what we are
I submit that the 'silver dyad' of 'learning+teaching' should be a fundamental concern of life - for each of us as individuals; and for all of us, together in groups.
What we learn today (and have learned in the past) determines what we do right now, with ourselves and with the world around us. And, to a considerable extent, it also determines what we shall do in future - with ourselves and with the world around us.
What we learn now and in the future is strongly influenced by what we have been taught and how we have been taught. We have been and are taught by ourselves and by the world around us.
What we've been taught is strongly determined by what we've been able to learn. In any case, we just cannot learn EVERYTHING that's out there in front of us - there is simply far too much of data and information in the universe. We need, every day and every second of our lives, to make choices, thousands on thousands of choices.
The choices we make are often determined by what we already are. Those choices we make today determine what we shall become tomorrow; they also determine the choices we may make in the future - as well as what we are able to learn in the future.
What we are able to learn is powerfully determined by the openness of our minds to the ingress of new ideas. New and unfamiliar ideas often tend to make us uncomfortable because we need to learn new and unfamiliar things - and even more often because we need to 'unlearn' things we may be comfortable with.
Sometimes the discomfort that we encounter by reason of new ideas entering our minds may be extreme - so extreme that we may very seriously quarrel with the person(s) who put forth those new ideas. We may even wish to kill them! If you don't believe me on this, there is plenty of historical evidence of people threatening to kill or even actually killing other people because new and uncomfortable ideas had been put forth by those 'others'.
For instance, the Inquisition is, quite largely, a sad record of people being tortured and killed because they put forth ideas that gave the Roman Catholic establishment some degree of discomfort. There is little doubt that Galileo would have been tortured or killed if he had not publicly recanted his scientific belief that "the earth moves around the sun - and not vice-versa"!
Closer to our times, the Supreme Leader of the People's Republic of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, decreed the death of the writer Salman Rushdie because he put forth some 'uncomfortable ideas'.
It's often much more comfortable to seal our minds to the ingress of new and unfamiliar ideas than to let those new and unfamiliar ideas in and learn how to use them in applications to our real life. This is one way of living - and some people do manage to live their lives this way. Most real scientists have to live in another way.
The natural curiosity that all of us were born with, that ruled our lives as infants and children is what enables us to ask questions, questions to ourselves and to the world around us. As we seek answers to these questions that our minds raise in response to our ideas, in response to the happenings in the real world around us, we often encounter new and unfamiliar ideas that could tend to lead to some discomfort in our minds. Most children (and scientists) learn to handle that discomfort successfully - by assimilating the new and the unfamiliar ideas (if those ideas are worth assimilating) with what they believe they already know. This is a somewhat mysterious process, about which science knows rather little.
[Attached: some documentation about ideas that may require some explanation, e.g., 'silver dyads'; something about the mysterious process of 'learning'].
...To be continued