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Great Educator: Confucius 551 to 479 BCE

Confucius, or K’ung-fu-tzu, married at the age of 19, got employed as a storekeeper and later as a superintendent of parks and herds. He established a private school when he was about 30 years old (522 BCE) and gained a reputation for his expertise in ‘rituals’.

“If one loves humanness but does not love learning, the consequence of this is folly; if one loves understanding but does not love learning, the consequence of this is unorthodoxy; if one loves good faith but does not love learning, the consequence of this is damaging behaviour; if one loves straight forwardness but does not love learning, the consequence is rudeness; if one loves courage but does not love learning, the consequence of this is rebelliousness; if one loves strength but does not love learning the consequence of this is violence.”

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A Crash Course in Social Capital

So, what is social capital? Jeremy Shearmur describes social capital as loosely as situations where people choose to voluntarily associate with each other and where membership in that group serves as a free resource to those members. Why is it important ? I feel that social capital is important because it helps to express aspects of community and belonging. I suppose that it is because we are social creatures and I suggest we are social creatures because of the greater benefits of being part of a community than of being solitary.

Social capital is a phrase being explored and studied across the world. Vivid importance has been attached to there being social capital in culture and it has been suggested that it is vital for stable growth economies, happy communities, healthy communities, efficient administrations, and effective learning environments. Read more

Great Educator: Mary Wollstonecraft 1759 to 1797

Mary Wollstonecraftleft home after receiving a haphazard education in a miserable and unloving family situation. She spent the next nine years in some of the few occupations open to unmarried women at that time. First she was a companion to a widow in Bath. Next, with the help of a sister and close friend, she established and ran a school for girls; then when that venture had to close, she became a governess.

“The most perfect education, in my opinion, is such an exercise of the understanding as is best calculated to strengthen the body and form the heart. Or, in other words, to enable the individual to attain such habits of virtue as well render it independent. In fact, it is a farce to call any being virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of it’s own reason”

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Categorical Thinking and the Narrowness of Rhetoric

Oh, what a week ! Sometimes it is that uphill struggle to get the most simple of things done. I find myself occasionally battling with people’s apathy and cynicism born of apathy, the inertia of the superstructures we work and live within, the anger of people reified from years past when they tried and failed to do something, and the desire to be recognised.

I remind myself what is possible by looking around to the buildings, the landscape; I go to the library and think of those with the perseverance and tenacity to have written their thoughts down and shared them. Read more

Great Educator: Thomas Henry Huxley 1825 to 1895

Thomas Henry Huxley’s research was so impressive that in 1851 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society; this however brought him no income. After a considerable career in the Navy as a voyaging surgeon, he left it to carry on his career in science.

Surely it would be the most undesirable thing in the world that one half of the population of this country should be accomplished men of letters with no tincture of science, and the other half should be men of science with no tincture of letters ?

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Inclusive Education and the Dialogue of Learning

I have been thinking about the nature of education and having been familiar with the noble aspects of this tenet of human society, I have not thought much about the negatives which it can manifest as. Francis Bacon is often attributed with having said ‘Knowledge is Power’. Regardless of who first said this, what is obvious is that it has become common currency as a phrase.

There are various ways in which this can be interpreted but one I like, which is not so commonly encountered is ‘Knowledge is only power when it is shared’. It was Francis Benton who told me this when she kindly consulted on the Ragged project at its inception.

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