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Changing thinking vs. Changing systems.

I’m reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance at the moment. It’s a bit of a classic, so I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to it.

Last night, I came across the following passage. It must be quite famous as I’ve stumbled across it before:

But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.

This made me think about Purpos/ed. Andy and I are often asked when we’re going to produce a manifesto, or what the ‘next level’ is. Well, that’s the kind of thinking that got us here in the first place.

Pirsig reminds us that even things that seem purely physical (such as steel) are nevertheless human constructs. Despite seeming permanent and ‘natural’ steel is not a substance that exists in nature. It’s the product of human imagination.

Likewise, there is no ‘state of nature’ for education systems. No natural way that we should organise learning.

We’d do well to remember that sometimes.

Purpos/ed #500words Take 2

Purpos/ed Take 2

I’m co-kickstarter (with Andy Stewart) of an organisation called Purpos/ed. We’re trying to provoke and sustain public debate around the question What’s the purpose of education?

We’ve had a number of campaigns (and a conference) since we started in February 2011, including a very successful one last year where people contributed 500 words on what they believe to be the purpose(s) of education.

I’m delighted to draw your attention to #500words Take 2, running throughout May 2012. You can see the schedule here: http://bit.ly/purposedu500

If you’d like to follow what’s going on, why not subscribe to the RSS feed, follow us on Twitter (or the hashtag #purposedu), or add us on Google+ or Facebook?

(PS You’re very welcome to send us an ‘unofficial’ contribution – email us at countmein@purposed.org.uk with the link!)

What’s the point of education? [Guardian Teacher Network]

What's the point of education?

The Guardian Teacher Network published my piece on the purpose of education yesterday. I like to experiment with new formats, so the whole piece is made up of questions – much like Padgett Powell’s The Interrogative Mood: a novel?

I’d be interested in your comments over there (I’ve turned them off here to encourage you to do so!)

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