Saturday 26 November 2011

Geddes view of technology and natural education and CIVICS

"In Nature's infinite book of mystery I can a little read."
Patrick Geddes, Outlook tower guide

Man lives by deeds not knowledge. His knowledge is to help him to act: he does not live to know but knows to enable him to live a richer and fuller life.
Comments written on Outlook tower guidebook

‘Vivendo Discimus’ by living we learn inscribed on Riddlers Court Archway, Edinburgh.

Dates back to 1889 when Geddes started Edinburgh university summer schools.

Geddes Evolution of Education:

education was not to be seen as one of his manifold activities, because for Geddes education was “the activity” that would move forward the Ascent of Man towards a better future.

Geddes was sure that human potential could be improved through education, therefore education was the key to rise quality of life in the future.

Geddes saw that new technology would bring about rapid development.

He was not anti-technology as such, but he foresaw that technology would give us the means to kill and pollute our natural environment on an ever greater scale than before.

In order to avoid the inevitable doom, he devoted his life to try to see a way forward to a new cultural era. He had to go on hoping that the environment could be controlled by conscious and well informed choices made by informed individuals.

His quest for a new kind of evolutionary education and the nature of knowledge therefore became first priority.

He went back to first principles about how people learn(how do people learn?) and about what methods are most appropriate. His motto “Vivendo Discimus” or “By Living We Learn” was meant to be a spur for action, there was no end to this search.

The main reason for organising his famous Summer Meetings in Edinburgh, indeed some of them inRiddle’s Court, was to test his ideas and methods on real people hoping to

help participants understand more about themselves and their environment.

because of his objectivity and creativity, he tried to

create a new subject which he called “Civics”.

This was a discipline directed both towards reclaiming human individual creativity and the improvement of the environment.

In some of his thinking machines he tried to plot the interaction between the structure and the process in a system of education. In his model he included the feelings, the thoughts and the experience of individuals because it is


and sense

and thought

which are important in realising creativity.

It was as far away from any formal school than you can ever imagine.

The objective was not to train in some skill or other and get a piece of paper or certificate at the end of it.

This was education where the students could choose their own courses and preferences freely, or change them every day if they so desired. This kind of freedom would be unthinkable for the rigid programmes of formal education.

Geddes, in his Summer meetings, prepared a magnificent banquet of lectures, visits excursions, concerts and practical work and invited people to tuck in and enjoy it. After all this was holiday time.

Model for new Patrick Geddes Centre for evolutionary education

Produced by Sofia G.Leonard

(very similar to my work!!)

The vision is to establish in Riddles Court a world class learning Centre to contribute to the creation of a learning society promoting active, critical citizenship informed by a twenty-first century dialogue around the principles of the Geddes’ evolutionary education.

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