An invitation to join the Paideia process in 1994-1995

9 conferences

Paideia will host 9 conferences during 1994-1995. These will take place every 5 to 6 weeks. Local groups will meet, hopefully at least one on each continent. The sessions will last for one day.

The sessions will be up live on the Internet during the day, initially as running reports and later with voice and visuals. The sessions will be multilingual with simultaneous translation, as soon as possible.

The dates of the 9 conferences are:
   June 11         Social and Natural Sciences
   July 23          Sustainable Society
   August 20      Paideia 

   October 8       Politics and Economics
   November 19  Democracies and their Economies
   December 17  Paideia 

   February 14   Arts and History
   March 18        Quality of Life
   April 22         Paideia
In May of 1993, four persons, joined occasionally by one or another of 5 others and in touch with 12 others, began a year of consistent and continuing conversation. They usually met every other week.

Their points of departure were:

  1. Their own work, family and everyday life.
  2. The emerging news of an eventful year.
  3. A set of study guides for an MA in Liberal Studies and Policy Studies.
This is a report on that year's work and an invitation to join in next year's continuing dialogue. The report is accompanied by a revision of the study guides for the MA and various documents officially defining the institutional setting for the effort in Paideia-- a university on the Internet.

The calibration of levels of participation:

The conferences will be run as if each participant had an MA in Liberal and Policy Studies. Those who perceive their mastery at an introductory ("AA") or ("BA") level will find continual reference to where they are already.

The conferences will maintain a breadth of service, so that those with modest means and those with sophisticated means can operate in the same system. We would like for the most currently sophisticated state-of-the-art to serve as a metaphor for those using the system with less.

World Wide Web server--
postal address--Zocherstraat 56, 1054 MA Amsterdam
Copyright 1994 Paideia

A Framework for Portfolios, Dialogue and Examinations


Paideia uses WWW to provide a framework or scaffold (1) for each member, as participant within a network, to proceed with his or her own further development. The portfolio is the primary vehicle for structuring this process. Dialogue is the primary route we take with this vehicle. Examinations are the primary mechanisms for assessing whether we have reached our destinations.

Here we present a scaffold for use in sharing with peers, tutors, mentors and examiners in the assessment of how the journey is going and whether you have reached a particular destination en route. This scaffold is analogous to criticism in the arts and peer revue in the sciences.

Paideia using WWW provides a more inclusive scaffold than just the arts and sciences. Therefore, its framework for critique needs to be more inclusive. For all of us, this is problematic, since the perogative for this sort of overview has traditionally been assigned to others, on our behalf.

Paideia gives you permission to join in your own critique. It also insists that you accept the price for that responsibility. The price is possession of a framework for your critique.

Existing knowledge represented on World Wide Web

A scaffold for an artistic and historical critique

First, we need to create our own metaphors and our own narratives, in juxtaposition with our autobiographies. This task connects to the idea that we are each "texts"-- our own unique constellation of representations or symbols of various sorts. The task also connects with the idea that we are each the product of the processes of cultural reproduction, social control and integration and socialization that make us who we are within our time and place.(*)

You are under no obligation to play all roles in presenting yourself. You are under a reasonable obligation, both locally and over the network, to expose yourself to others who will play reciprical roles in relation to you. Your view of your metaphor, your view of history and your view of yourself need to be reflected upon by others.

A scaffold for a social and natural sciences critique

The modalities of the sciences differ profoundly from the modes of the arts and history (and autobiography). The issue is not whether you agree or diagree on particular matters in the sciences or even like or dislike the scientific posture in relation to our realities. The issue is whether you recognize that the sciences do define themselves, in large measure, in terms of their method and they usually define that as hypothesis building and testing. Scientists look at our everyday reality and realities they can access through their instruments and see variables with differing values in all sorts of relations to one another within those seen and unseen realities. (*)

1) "Scaffolding is the support the master gives apprentices in carrying out a task. This can range from doing almost the entire task for them to giving occasional hints as to what to do next." from Allan Collins, John Seely Brown, and Ann Holum, "Cognitive Apprenticeship Making Thinking Visible". American Education, Volume 15, Number 3 (Winter 1992), page 8.

It is our job to take the tested hypotheses and integrate them into our own working image of our own paideia.

A scaffold for politics and economics

Next we come to one of the most difficult aspects of our estimate of ourselves. Politically we live in such a complex and jaded time that to hold ourselves accountable at all for political positions is presumptuous. Economically we also live in a time when it appears easy to get off the hook of ethical acountability.(*)

The tracing out of the lace-like quality of a core set of issues we face, and our immunization from the onslought of distractions we face demands heroic effort. We need to transfer from economic portfolio analysis to political budget and legilative analysis, the modes of precise consideration and debate we have been taught so carefully.

A scaffold for perspective critique

To characterize a common framework for evaluating how we live out our perspectives, we need to use referents outside the belief systems themselves. This outside stance is problematic when we view from within a perspective. It seems essential for the practical purposes of our common life. We cannot presume to evaluate systems of perspective, but merely observe some of the consequences for others.(*)

Emerging knowledge represented on World Wide Web

A scaffold of dialogue and theme critique

Paideia participates in the process of dialogue in which we examine the themes that contribute to better quality of life, more sustainable societies and more effective democracies and their economies. It embeds itself in the locales where its members live and defines its usefulness in terms of their everyday lives. Grounded in this day-by-day existence, it provides a context for percieving and accepting responsibilities in as global a fashion as seems appropriate.

Over the past five developmental years, we have approached quality of life as a theme for dialogue in a number of ways. Our need to review and identify with global history in relation to our autobiographies has moved from a Western focus to more inclusive global images. Our realization of the place of the arts in our lives has moved from a combined practical and theoretical approach to various mixes of experience and reflection back to a more simple combination of both.

The case for achieving a sustainable society rests on our common acceptance of this value. The problem of generating sufficient energy to provide a critical mass of action for a sustainable society rests partly in attaching this value to existing belief systems in religions and the like. The solution also rests in accepting the complex personal and network task of composing our own metaphors in the light of our own global narratives of history.(*)

A value system that transcends all of the specific issues that various democracies face derives from our shared convictions. Nothing inherent in human nature dictates democracy. Something intrinsic to many emerging value perspectives does indicate its desirability.(*)

A scaffold for a critique of our sources and opportunities

Traditionally we have all come out of local situations where the dynamics of peer pressure and the hierarchy of whatever sort we were subject to, made both our perspectives and all of the rest of our values and concepts conform. To presume to transcend this world of affection and support by "going away to college", even though staying at home, requires an act of will on the part of all of us.(*)

Bluntly, the approach we propose and that we propose we "judge" each other by is one that insists on public responsibility for public policy in our political and economic life. The media expose us to enough of a rush of images that we could appear to exempt ourselves from further effort if we just watched that TV program and then that other one over there. Actually, more seems possible for us and more seems demanded of us.(*)

Relevant Knowledge represented on World Wide Web

Portfolios, dialogue and examinations

We see the domains and perspectives as relatively less subject to change than the themes we pursue in dialogue or our processing of the sources of our new knowledge in the arts, history and sciences or our search for opportunities for acting responsibily in politics, work and investment or our own cultural life. For each of us this resolves itself into the relevance of knowledge and perspective set over against themes for dialogue and sources and opportunities in our everyday lives.

We document these interacting processes in our portfolios, reflect upon them in our dialogue and periodically are examined in our mastery. The portfolio is hyperlinked to the rest of the system and peers and mentors are able to access it and comment upon it. Initial experiments using WWW on the Internet, suggest that the examinations should also have a hyperlinked aspect.

A University in the World Wide Web on the Internet

Thus, Paideia on the Internet is conventional in its allegiance to the arts, history, the sciences, policy studies and the importance of our varying perspectives. It is equally conventional in its affirmation of the disciplines more oriented to change--rhetoric, journalism (media studies) and library-information studies. It proposes to its staff and students personalized participation in this mental landscape,

charting the journey with a portfolio and measures of mastery.

taking the journey in thematic dialogue

and assessing arrivals along the journey with measures of mastery.

(*) The names in these paragraph refer to key readings assigned in the Paideia study guides. [working examples:]

Comment on Dutch readings: These are exemplary cases of both story and history and they also are autobiography. Notice that the author of each was under no obligation to be his or her own critic, let alone place his or her work in a larger historical and philosophcial framework. Another book, like Mirror of the Indes, does that task separately.