I’ve always been an avid learner both inside and outside of school. As I started progressing through the educational system however I found myself distressed by the incessant streamlining of what was available for me to learn (through my formal educational channels anyway as they tended to inform what I would explore on my own) as well the cultural perspectives that were offered to me. It’s no surprise that I’ve turned towards autodidactic learning to satisfy my intellectual curiosity as this gives me infinitely more control over my instructional material. The internet age lets my classroom extend as far as my wireless and sporadic insomnia will take me. I’ve decided to share my discoveries for any and all who are interested.

First on the Autodidact Files: Dr Jason J campbell.

I accidentally came on his Youtube channel about a year ago when I was looking for some additional analysis to help me unpack Gayatri Spivak’s notable essay “Can the subaltern speak?”, a seminal work in post colonial studies. Fun times with serendipity 😀 – I not only found exactly what I was looking for but stumbled upon what is now one of my favourite learning resources for philosophy and theory/philosophy of mind.

A little background on the good doctor: he’s trained as a philosopher and is currently an assistant professor of conflict analysis and resolution at Nova Southern University, Florida as well as the founder and Executive Director for the Institute for Genocide Awareness and Applied Research. With so much on his plate he still takes time to share knowledge through video lectures on his youtube channel (You can find it here). His vlogs are very accessible (very little of that staunch pretence characteristic of academia at that level) and he is very open to communication with subscribers exploring a wide range of topics from neoliberalism to theories of ethnicity and nationalism.

You can also find a decent selection of complementary notes for his lecture series here on his academia.edu page (incidentally another great resource for scholarly papers). He hasn’t posted a new video in 5 months but you’ll have more than enough to go through however before it becomes an issue (hopefully a new series will be up soon). I’m currently following his series on José Ortega y Gasset’s “The Revolt of the Masses” which, to my surprise, is striking a lot of chords with regards to my reading of Steve Biko’s “I Write What I like” (Yay to interdisciplinary study). I really hope you find this man as helpful as I have and enjoy!

Current mainstream educational models lead to a uniformity of thought, force everyone to work at the same pace so the people on the margins, those who learn too fast or those who learn at a slower pace are often left frustrated and discouraged – left to think that they are stupid simply because they can’t adapt to a rigid system that was not created to evolve while trying to mould a mind that is constantly doing so. 

Once you’ve taught people rudimentary skills: arithmetics, reading, writing, the art of conversation in oral cultures and critical thought, let their mind wonder without your constrictions. Maybe the key to someone’s understanding of science is in PE but because you don’t let them explore that you quell whatever they could learn then punish their “stupidity” while you are the one who failed to adequately educate.

The way school is (for the most part) structured affects the way we think. It gets us used to being spoon fed information instead of going out and looking for it and examining it for ourselves, creates a culture of slaves who also expect to be served, makes us docile and unquestioning. There are many things you can outsource, thinking should not be one of them. If anything it should be a collaborative effort. The world is changing so why isn’t the way we are educated changing with it? The world we want (perhaps need) won’t be created if we keep churning out subservient individuals to be “workers for the state, and cannon fodder for the states army“.

Education should be about theory of thought and application by now. We all (to certain degrees anyway) have access to a wide array of information in our current times. We should be teaching people how best to process it, judge it and apply the synthesized knowledge within whatever cultural frame they inhabit, allow as many people to self actualize in a healthy supportive environment.

Education as following different trains of thought framed within what ever organizational pattern suits the learner.

Education as self-optimization in a symbiotic environment in perpetual motion.

A few things to consider for further exploration:

  • Teacher should be a guide not a dictator
  • Expert is a presumptuous title – assuming mastery over a field that is in constant evolution. All our attempts at reasoning is asymptotic to truth. At best.
  • Knowing more isn’t always knowing better
  • Is a mind really free if one not using it in all the dimensions that one can? it’s like you’re given a master key and you use it to only open one door – the case for polymathism