One White Bit INCOMPLETE WORK IN PROGRESS - please contact: john@newschool futures


One White Bit (see rigour, element, heart and other keywords)
One White Bit
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Exceptions sometimes trump rules

  • Alfred Jarry coined the term Pataphysics around 1893.
  • While some regard it as a parody of science, others see it as a branch of philosophy or science.
  • As such, it would explore imaginary phenomena, in a conjectural way, perhaps by conceiving a world that transcends metaphysical constraints.
  • Learners can find opportunities by finding imaginary solutions based on exceptions rather than rules.

Our industrial past

  • Evolution works differently from the way that industries work.
  • Whereas industry learned to set standards and rules, evolution depends on difference and diversity.
  • Without some deviation from the prevailing paradigm, new forms of life would not be possible.
  • However, the last 10K years of human history taught us to find methods and to apply them systematically.
  • This now also applies to methodologies of innovation.
  • Humans have created a monetary system designed to make each dollar seem identical to every other dollar.
  • By contrast, every living system (e.g. human learner) is unique and autopoietic
  • Evolution in the living world therefore depends on exceptions, rather than rules and standards.

The University Paradigm

  1. Fortunately, many of the above habits and preoccupations linger on in today's universities.
  2. Their practices became ossified by common bureaucratic procedures that - at worst - value the fairness of grading above the joy of learning.
  3. We can apply the best of both traditions by widening the scope of learning and by giving learners a greater level of creative autonomy.
  4. The deep purpose of learning is often overshadowed by bureaucratic reasoning that turns complex experiences and values into quantities.
  5. Over the last few centuries the culture of books was challenged by a series of technological innovations.
    • e.g. the printing press, then digital storage, voice recognition, multi-media and, more recently, AI systems.

The Art School Paradigm

  1. One way to augment the 'Head-based' approach is to add a touch of art school thinking.
  2. Although today's art schools emulated the mainstream universities, they have a mediaeval Crafts Guilds (i.e. not a monastic) heritage.
  3. Here, arguably, the idea of 'knowing' is less definable as a truth-claim and more as knowing how - i.e. as an outcome-oriented process of shaping to make things work.
  4. Although art schools are now assimilated into a common university framework this did little to change the University Paradigm.
  5. Universities set 'standards' in order to uphold academic rigour.