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DR SM MATLABE AND PROF VJ PITSOE

EDRHODG summery

Critical rationalism theory.


Critical rationalism is a process of research, problem-solving and questioning (3 tools).
A philosophy that focuses on problem solving and information.
To seek out relevant information and to argue.

Particularly suitable to the classroom because CR wants teachers and learners to think for themselves and
question what they are told.
This leads to research of a high quality, that is relevant.
Section 17 of Department of Education's white paper on education and training:
Learners should be encouraged to develop independent and critical thought as well as the capacity to
question, enquire, reason, weigh evidence, form judgements, and achieve understanding. Learners should
recognise the provisional and incomplete nature of most human knowledge.

It is a teaching approach (philosophical strategy) that is based on problem-solving, questioning and


argument.
Critical rationalism is also known as the theory of critical analysis because it entails constant questioning of
our taken-for-granted assumptions or notions of “truth” or “knowledge”.
It is focussed on problem-solving and on information (seek relevant information and to argue).
CR is well suited to the classroom because CR wants educators and learners to think for themselves and to
question what they are told.
The key question that critical rationalists ask is: “How do we know this is true?”
The educator as researcher, scholar and lifelong learner, should always ask critical questions, try to solve
problems and be open to criticism from other scholars.
Classroom practice should mostly consist of questioning, dialogue and debate.
The educator should therefore be prepared to debate and argue points with the learners in the classroom
without feeling threatened.

Applying the principle of CR (problem-solving, questioning and argument) in the classroom will, encourage
learners to develop independent and critical thought, the capacity to question, enquire, reason, weigh
evidence and form judgements”.

Unit 1 Reason and action


Educator / Learner
Partly, someone standing in front of a classroom, giving information to others.
All human beings are educators, and by implication also learners.
All of us learn from each other all the time.
To learn and educate is to be alive.
- any situation whereinformation or a skills are transferred from one person to another, there will be an
educator as well as a learner. Irrespective of age, gender or experience. There is always something to learn
and always something that a person can be taught (educated on).

Educator
The dictionary definition of the educator is “someone who imparts knowledge to learners”.
Another definition is “someone who gives instruction”.
It is necessary to mention that “all human beings are educators and learners”, because we all learn from each
other all the time. – To learn and educate is to be alive.
Researcher
Research is a more focussed form of learning.
We do research to find out something (search for knowledge). It could be very specific, or very general.
The moment you look for information, you are doing research.

A researcher is someone who conducts research that is focused on solving problems.


Research arises out of the need to find answers about a general or specific education question or problem.
It is a more focused form of learning.

Scholar
A learned person. Linked to being wise.
Someone who has made a point of learning as much as possible. To be a scholar, you need to be a researcher
and a learner, and you need educators.

An academic or an intellectual.
Someone who has learned a lot about a specific field of study.
A dictionary definition is “a learned person”.
An elderly person could be more of a scholar than a teenager, because he/she has had more years in which to
learn.

Lifelong learner
Developing a questioning approach to life and what one encounters in life.
Many questions do not have simple straight forward answers (a view embraced by national policy on
education).
Part of being a lifelong learner is being prepared to admit that we do not have all the answers.
Willingness to engage in lifeling learning, will make you a researcher and a scholar.
Section 17 of Department of Education's white paper on education and training:
Learners should be encouraged to develop independent and critical thought as well as the capacity to
question, enquire, reason, weigh evidence, form judgements, and achieve understanding. Learners should
recognise the provisional and incomplete nature of most human knowledge.
If you want to understand what is happening in your classroom or seek to solve a problem, you will
automatically practice lifelong learning, scholarship and research.

A lifelong learner is someone with a questioning approach to life. (Socratic approach)


Someone who is in constant search for answers.
There are no straightforward answers to questions about life, so we all should be LL learners.
All human being should be lifelong learners and lifelong educators.
Socratic activity of self-examination, self-interrogation, self-questioning.

Interrelated
EDUCATIONAL PROBLEM→ EDUCATOR DOES RESEARCH → DISTRIBUTES RESEARCH
THROUGH PUBLICATIONS → BECOMES A SCHOLAR → EDUCATOR KEEPS ON ASKING
QUESTIONS AND IS THEREFORE A LIFELONG LEARNER.
(Socratic activity if self-examination, self-questioning and self-interrogation – courage to think critically for
oneself)
The willingness to engage in lifelong learning is what makes an educator a researcher and a scholar.
Lifelong learning, scholarship and research are all part of the activity of problem solving.
If we seek to solve a problem or improve our understanding or what happens in our classrooms, we will
automatically be practicing lifelong learning, scholarship and research.
Socrates
Developing a questioning approach. Appreciate the incomplete nature of human knowledge. Continue
through questioning, in the quest for rational and informed dialogue.

Socrates is known for puzzling his students with probing and mind boggling questions. At no stage was he
willing to give his students straightforward answers to their questions. Instead he would turn the question
around, explore numerous ways in which the same question could be asked. In this way, he got his students
to appreciate the incomplete nature of human knowledge, to continue, through questioning, in their quest for
rational and informed dialogue.

Socrates: Section 17 of Department of Education's white paper on education and training:


Learners should be encouraged to develop independent and critical thought as well as the capacity to
question, enquire, reason, weigh evidence, form judgements, and achieve understanding. Learners should
recognise the provisional and incomplete nature of most human knowledge.

Socrates: to engage in Socratic activity is to engage in the activity of self-examination, self-interrogation,


and self-questioning. This requires the courage to think critically, for oneself. It requires more courage to dig
deep into the corners of one's soul and wrestle with what one finds.

Educator vs "opvoeder"
Educator: someone who gives instruction or imparts knowledge.
Opvoeder: imparts knowledge as well as values, to parent someone, to prepare someone for life outside his
parents' house.
Link between wisdom and learning: you can have one without the other. Knowledge versus insight.
Learning: technical competence and "cleverness".

The steps involved in problem solving


Problem solving is not unique to human beings.
State the problem.
How did others solve this problem.
Problem solving steps:
1) Identify the problem.
2) Formulate the problem as precisely as possible.
3) Find out what other people have said about that problem and how it can be solved.
4) Decide whether other people's findings are relevant to the problem as it occurs in your context.
5) Actively apply what you think is the best solution to the problem.
6) If the solution does not work, try another solution.
7) As you try different solutions and as time goes by, you may find yourself redefining the problem.
8) This will lead you to seeking new solutions.
Steps 7 and 8 are what makes problem solving a lifelong experience.
We all need to be receptive to new learning and new ideas.
This is all part of being open-minded, which is essentially problem-solving.
9) You need to be prepared to think for yourself and to critically analyse any point of view or theory that
you hear.

Sources of information:
1) Older more experienced educators. First hand evidence.
Consider generation gap syndrome: being in the field for so long that they have missed out on opportunities
to renew skills and attitudes at courses, seminars, workshops, conferences.
Might be stuck in the old ways, prone to stereotyping.
2) Textbooks and published research work.
Reading and thinking for yourself, using the work of experts in the field.
Subject librarians can help.
To bear in mind before simply downloading any information from the internet.
1) Not all internet sources are reliable. Confirm good credentials, that it is maintained by a professional in
the field.
2) Some sources are keen to push a certain theory or ideology. Realise the bias.
3) Most sources are western/first world (might assume everyone are Americans). Reflects an uncritical
cultural bias on the part of the website designers.

Intelligence vs intellect
Intelligence: a manipulative faculty. The secret world of spying and espionage, surveillance.
Intellect: a critical faculty. The critical examination of taken-for-granted, seemingly basic assumptions that
individuals hold.
Radical examining and clarifying those unarticulated forms of dogmatism, fixity, orthodoxy, frameworks
and paradigms, that often become so ossified and etrified that those who subscribe to them are never able to
become self-critical and self-corrective to engage in dialogical exchange.

Not all questions have answers.

Digital divide
Not everyone has access to the internet. Internet access divides the developed world and the developing
world.
Internet is only available in parts of the world that have a national electricity supply, and sophisticated
telecommunication systems.

Barriers
Not only lack of resources in communities.
In the developing world: resistance to the idea that technlogy is a quick fix.
They feel, Access to technology is not worth it when so many places on the continent are still without
electricity and running water.
Their priorities are hygiene, sanitation, safe drinking water - acces to the internet is not going to change that.

Phylosophy of education
Socratic in approach, critical and reflective.
Its basis is to question the taken-for-granted assumptions and presuppositions with a view to arrive at some
semblance of conceptual validity.
To critically and rigorously dissect the assumption.

The principle of falsification


(Karl Popper)
Basis: we can never know whether a statement or believe is definitely true, but we can find out whether it is
false.
To find evidence to the contrary.

How to make irrelevant information more relevant.


1) Define the nature of the problem the author researched.
2) Find similarities bethween the current problem and his (make a list).
3) What do I have in common with an educator in an American classroom?
4) What do the learners in my school have in common with the learners referred to in the textbook.
Correct referencing techniques
In-text referencing.Abbreviated form of the full reference to a book. (Dawkins 1986:6) (Chu 2003:14-20)
Full reference at the end of the book.
Title of the book in Italics. Dawkins, R. (1986) The blind watchmaker. New York: Norton.
Magazine: Title of article in ordinary type - name of journal in italics. Chu, J. (2003) O Father, where art
though? Time. June:14-20.
Internet reference; http://name of website/date of download ; date of download because some website might
go offline, or information may vary even within a brief period.

Unit 2 How to argue


Explain the structure of an argument
x is true
Given that x is true, y is also true.
x+y=3
x=2
therefore y = 1

John is married to Mary.


Therefore Jonh is Mary's husband, and Mary is John's wife.

Taking a statement or set of statements, and using them to claim that something else is or is not true.

Caution phrase: "It is likely ..."

Spot the weaknesses in poor arguments


Untested assumption
False reasoning - two statements have nothing to do with each other.
Generalisations - always, everybody, all,
Think about the validity of an assumption: through self-examination, self-interrogation and self-questioning.
The courage to think critically for oneself. (Socratic activity).

Untested assumptions
Def: An untested assumption is a statement which has not been subjected to examination, experiment, or
experience. It is an unproven assumption.

Hidden assumptions
Def: A hidden assumption or implicit assumption is an assumption that is not made explicit. It includes the
underlying agreements or statements made in the development of a logical argument, course of action,
decision, or judgment that are not explicitly voiced nor necessarily understood by the decision maker or
judge. Often, these assumptions are made based on personal life experiences, and are not consciously
apparent in the decision making environment. These assumptions can be the source of apparent paradoxes,
misunderstandings and resistance to change in human organizational behaviour.

Factual statements (express fact: is)


Def: An factual statement is represents what can be observed as being undeniably true. It is neutral,
objective and gives information about the world as it is.

Value statements (express values: ought to, should)


Def: A value statement is prescriptive in that it expresses an “ought.”
It is normative in that it states a norm or standard.

Generalising statements (always, everybody, all)


Def: A generalising statements often uses the words “always”, “all” and “everyone” without this being a
proven fact. These statements are usually untrue.
It is normative in that it states a norm or standard.
Inconsistency in articulation, which leads to
- Contradictions.
Eg. People are retrenched because the company is in financial trouble and then the boss approves the
building of an executive gym.

Explain what is meant by a hidden assumption


Not stated, but implied.

State what is meant by a fact


Physical fact about the natural and biological world. Gives us information about the world as it is.
It tells us something neutral and objective about the world as it is.
A fact is what can be observed as being undeniably true. It is neutral, objective and gives information about
the world as it is.
Facts can be verified by consulting authorative databases.
A statement about the natural or physical world.
"is" statement.

State what is meant by a value


Values are the same as morals. Values are extremely important to all human beings and all human societies.
A value is based on a personal believe.
Values have nothing to do with the natural or physical world.
No logical connection between fact and value.
We need to be able to recognise values and we need to be empowered to criticise society's values.
We need to be able to criticise and rethink our own values; to engage in Socratic activity of self-
examination, self-interrogation and self-questioning, to develop the courage to think critically, for ourselves.
We need to acknowledge our values, and realise that they are not some unchangeable, unquestionable truth
given to us by God or society.
A value is based on a personal belief. It is prescriptive in that it expresses an “ought. It is normative in that it
states a norm or standard.
Should, Wrong, Ought,
The importance we personally give to these issues indicates our value system.
The sort of research we choose will reflect our values and interests - who we are.
There is no logical connection between fact and value.

Choose a research topic that interests you personally


Over-population, racism, oil resources, religious fanaticism, aids, child abuse, poverty, unemployment,
sexism, the wealth gap, corruption in bussiness and politics, american domination.

All these issues are facts.

Theory and discussion


More theory is needed, not less.
To find out what we can do about the problem.

Research and action


Agree to find out more - do research.
Find out more from each other.

The problem with a speciality subject


It tends to make educators feel that they should only do research into their field of study.
This could be very limiting and lead people down a dead end.
There are certain issues that will impact on literally everybody on the planet.
The advantage of a good education
We resist the idea that higher education is linked to some measurable output.
The purpose of higher education is to enable certain groups of people to critically analyse themselves and
society - not a luxury but an urgent necessity in a world plagued with overwhelming problems.
Not intrinsically wrong to go to university in order to get a better job.

A good education is not about making money. A good education is about teaching people to think and act
responsibly.
It improves the overall quality of people entering the workplace.
Bussines world is dominated by profit motive and greed - lack of long-term planning and social
responsibility.

A good education gives people the ability to critically analyse dominant social values and this sort of critical
outlook is needed in the modern bussiness world.
A good education raises people's perspectives on, and perceptions about themselves, others and the world
around them, to a higher order reflection.

History is a study of people. Learn from mistakes of the past.


The study of the human species in action as a group, also a study of individual history.
Science and technology are only benificial if they are controlled by responsible human beings who
understand just how badly things can go wrong.
The world is running out of food and water, political and religious fanaticism is threatening humankind.

Technology has the power to destroy the human race - thus teaching learners moral responsibility is more
important.
Science helps to overcome religious fanaticism, it critically examines claims of religion.
Bio-ethics, helps learners become aware of the social and ethical aspects of science.

Unit 3 Research, values and education


Draw up a research problem in education

Defend your research problem on the basis of a structured, reasoned argument

"always" - a statement that needs challenging


Bring out the hidden assumptions and make plain the values.

Opennes is crucial in research and scholarship (p45).


There is nothing invalid about values. We all have values.
We need to acknowledge that they are our values (individual and personal), not some unchangeable,
unquestionable truth that was given to us by God or society.

Making our values plain, opens up the possibility of discussion.


Values have to scrutinised, and challenged - because they are not set in stone and might change when more
insight is gained.

As long as we openly realise the limits of what we know, and as long as we openly acknowledge that we are
proceeding on the basis of assumptions - we can respond on that.
We should be open to learn form new information.

The need to avoid inconsistency


We are all unique human beings with different experiences and different viewpoints.
We do not think with a part of ourselves. Our thinking involves our whole personality.
It is persons who think, not purely rational spirits. There is no thinking in a vacuum.

We need to avoid inconsistency in our arguments and in our actions. (we can all be inconsistent at times)
There are many different types of research.
There is nothing wrong with open-ended research. Open ended research can throw up some very
illuminating facts.
Open ended research tends to yield unexpected discoveries that may prove of immense worth.
There is much to learning that we do not know, this sort of proposal will lead us into new areas of
knowledge.

The word "elitist' tells us there is a hidden value system in the statement.
Resist the emphasis on technical competence.

A call for sympathy and understanding.


If we are to be logically consistent, we need to listen and respond to the pleas of others.

Memorising and recall


Real learning is agony - a struggle, a contest with ourselves, with superficial entrenched ideas, and with the
lore we absorb from our surrounding culture.

Truth is a moving target. It is always time to start all over again.

Research can take onedown the road less traveled, can set you off in a direction you never thought of and
may even find rather alarming.
Can make major life changes as a result of research.