There was a little girl. She was bright and intelligent but she was scared. She spent much time in her own little world. She didn’t really speak to anyone much. One day, she realized an incredible thing, something that would change her world forever. She came to realize that no matter what anyone did, or tried to do, they could never know what she was thinking. In that moment she realized that all her secrets were safe, they were her own. No one could think in the same way that she could. Her mind was her own secret haven. In that moment, she grew up. She was still a little girl, but her mind was no longer that of a little girl. People could ask her anything, they could ask her, “Hey little girl, What are you thinking”. And she could respond, “Nothing”. She didn’t have to tell them anything. This little girl had dark times ahead of her. Even though she knew her mind was all hers, she soon was introduced to the selfishness in people. The selfishness in strangers and even her family. She discovered that people could be cruel and mean. She was only a little girl. But that didn’t really mean anything to anyone. It hurt her to know this. And in her pain, she didn’t say anything. She was bright, she could have said no, could have spoke up. But this little girl kept quiet. She kept silent. She did not ever stop it. She just hid in her mind. And as the darkness began to consume what she knew of the world, the light in her mind kept her safe. Whatever people did to her body, to her surroundings, to her family, her friends, whatever they did, they could never hurt her mind. Her thoughts were always safe. Still, this little girl hurt. She hurt a lot. She is not a little girl anymore and she remembers the day the world became evil. She remembers when the goodness of people was lost. She remembers it all and will never forget.
I just have so many other things I could be doing… Anyways. I get to whose from these three prompts. Which one should I write about:
1. What sort of evidence do we need for a belief before if we are to regard that belief as constituting knowledge? Do we need to establish that belief beyond a doubt? What is Descartes view on this matter? What is your own view on this matter?
2. According to Descartes, what is the relationship between the “mind” and the “body”? How do they come to be “known” as different substances? What is your view on this matter?
3. Consider the possibility that everything you’re experiencing now may be the result of a dream or deception caused by an “evil genius”. Does this situation pose a problem for what we can accurately claim to know? How does Descartes respond to this? How do you respond to this?
Can’t Be Love
There have been many great teachers to walk this earth, one of them being the Buddha. His teachings have inspired many to enlightenment. The Buddha himself was reluctant to teach because he felt that “what he had realized could not be communicated in words” and even with these doubts he was persuaded to make an attempt (O‘Brien). He chose to help teach people a way, a path of practice, in which people could “realize enlightenment for themselves” (O’Brien). If a man like Buddha would had kept his enlightenment to himself, his teachings would have never been heard by anyone and his life would have been meaningless. He spent years attempting to find that ultimate happiness and an ultimate nirvana. The Buddha gave way to a religion of teachings known as Buddhism and his way of practice have enlightened many.
Another great teacher was Jesus Christ, whose teachings on morality and God are the foothold to thousands of religions today. Jesus’ teachings were unique because he left the interpretations up to the listeners. One of those great teachings was the story of the Prodigal Son or the lost son that returns home to his father. Jesus would tell these stories and let the people decide what they meant. The story of the prodigal son can be taken in many different directions. Had Jesus kept those stories to himself or had taught in a different manner, than not only would his life not have any significance but his teachings would have most likely never reached as many hearts as they did. These two great teachers had an incredible impact on the lives and hearts of many and continue to hold that impact today.
The ideas behind education are argued consistently. As Paulo Freire said in The “Banking” Concept of Education, “only through communication can human life had meaning” (Freire 322). To Freire, education is about communication and having an open dialogue between the student and teacher. Michel Foucault, the author of Panopticism, felt that education models a system of surveillance and control. Both Freire and Foucault discuss the way schools are conducted and while Foucault points out how schools help discipline society, Freire argues that this discipline steals the meaning from students lives; their creativity and ideas on reality are hindered and oppressed. To Freire, education should enact freedom not the practice of domination.
In Michel Foucault’s Panopticism, the panopticon holds very little forms of communication. The panopticon is a building with wide big windows and a central tower. The panopticon holds many cells that would house individuals, and the central tower would house the warden or guard. The way the structure is built ensures that every inmate is always being watched by the central tower yet they never know when because they cannot see inside the central tower. This “induce[s] in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power” ( Foucault 288). Simply put, because the inmate is always visible, they will always follow the discipline. Through this model, the communication is limited to those within the cells and the warden. Whether there is communication between the cellmates is up to that warden or the outside world. According to Foucault, this leads to discipline and a well working apparatus but to Freire this discipline and limited form of communication causes the human life to lose its meaning. Foucault discusses that this panopticon can be applied to different apparatuses like schools, hospitals, prisons, workplaces etc and this is where the connection is seen to Freire’s ideas on education.
School has always been implemented for reasons other than to educate. Unfortunate, but true, during the 17th century when Christian elementary schools were founded, the justifications were negative. It was because “those poor who were unable to bring up their children left them in ‘ignorance of their obligations: given the difficulties they have in earning a living and themselves having been badly brought up, they are unable to communicate a sound upbringing that they themselves never had” (Foucault 296). Foucault also writes that there were three major inconveniences for children not being in school, “ignorance of God”, “idleness”, and the “formation of those gangs of beggars” (Foucault 296). Therefore by the beginning of the Revolution, the reasons for primary education were to “’fortify’, to ‘develop the body’, to ‘prepare the child for a future in some mechanical work’ to give him ‘an observant eye, a sure hand and prompt habits’” (Foucault 296). Foucault is not saying that the actual building of the panopticon is present, but the idea behind it, the idea that through surveillance people are disciplined. With the development of schools, authorities were able to keep an eye on not only children but their parents as well. The schools were not simply there to “train docile children” but to also “make it possible to supervise the parents, to gain information as to their way of life, their resources, their piety, their morals” (Foucault 297). Foucault brings out that “one also sees the spread of disciplinary procedures, not in the form of enclosed institutions but as contents of observation dissimulated throughout society” (Foucault 297). People are educated and taught but its not in the same manner that someone like Freire would have liked to seen it happen.
Foucault discusses how schools were modeled after prisons and Freire, a native of Brazil, discusses his belief’s on today’s educational system and how it is a “banking concept” in which teachers are determined to fill the receptacles of their students, depositing information to mindless drones who patiently memorize it all, while lowering and oppressing the student. This banking concept is how Freire sees education today. He generalizes education and says that this is the norm, that all classrooms are like this. True, our educational system, especially in the United States is very much like the banking system especially in the lower grade schools. Once you get into college level courses, the student is in charge of their education. You choose which classes to take not the teacher. Freire’s idea of “education as the freedom as opposed to education as the practice of domination” can be seen in higher educational courses (Freire 325). This idea must be put into practice into all forms, not just in the classroom.
Education springs forth in numerous ways that both Freire and Foucault do not address. Foucault discusses this panoptic idea and that education is a method to watch society, to teach them to lead civilized lives. Freire discusses two opposing forms of education, the banking concept and problem-posing education. With the latter, education is not limited to what the teacher wants the student to learn, but is an exchanging of ideas between the two parties. It is a education that “consists in acts of cognition, not transferals of information”, in which the student is the thinker, the one who is cognitively thinking about his reality, his knowledge, not simply accepting what the teacher deposits into him (Freire 323). The teacher versus student problem seen in the banking concept does not exist but both are working equally and at the same level. Hierarchy, which is seen in Foucault’s model, does not exist in Freire’s model. According to Freire “authentic thinking, thinking that is concerned about reality, does not take place in a ivory tower isolation, but only in communication” (Freire 322). But both fail to examine that education is not limited to a classroom setting.
We learn in many different ways and the classroom is not the only place that the intake of knowledge takes place. With Freire’s concept of problem posing education, “people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which the find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality but as a reality in process, in transformation” (Freire 326). Freire’s idea can be applied outside the classroom. As our own educators and our own perceivers of the outside world, we should be able to go out and perceive critically our world in every which way, while in the workforce, while at home, with our peers and with our families. This is where Foucault made a good point, this idea that we discipline each other is seen in all these different modes. Not just in the school, but the hospital, the workplace and the home. Every individual that we interact with is influenced by our actions whether it be good or bad. Freire’s belief that education should be free and not confined is true to an extent but because we are constantly influencing our surroundings and being influenced by them, we are constantly changing the education.